In place of the now-departed Ken Hamlin, safety Alan Ball got his first taste of a starting job in the NFL last year, as he filled in for the injured former Pro Bowler for four weeks toward season's end.
In that time, Ball played well enough, apparently, to earn a kind-of-surprising amount of confidence from the coaching staff.
Not only will Ball start next season in Hamlin's absence--he'll be, more or less, the team's only option as it stands now. There is no safety net, no veteran to take over should he falter, and owner Jerry Jones has loudly asserted that he doesn't plan to go out and get one. Indeed, if there is a back-up plan, the team has hidden it well.
This baptism by fire is just fine by Ball, though, who insists that he is ready to be a regular starter in the NFL.
"I don't feel a lot of pressure because I've played with everyone I've played with before and I've got so many guys around me that are superstars or that can be superstars within one season," Ball told NFL Radio, per the Dallas Morning News. "We've got a great front seven and I got [Terence] Newman and [Mike] Jenkins to my left and my right and I can talk to G [Gerald Sensabaugh] at any time.
"So I feel comfortable in the defense right now and I feel like it's just time to assert myself and help make plays."
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