SAN ANTONIO – If you want to get on Alan Ball’s bad side, ask him about his size.
He knows he’s undersized for a safety, even after bulking up to 190 pounds this offseason. But he firmly believes that he’s physical enough to be effective as the Cowboys’ starting free safety.
The short-yardage and goal-line work during Monday afternoon’s practice offered Ball an opportunity to prove himself. He held his own but wasn’t happy when 6-foot-5, 265-pound tight end John Phillips roughed him up on a running play.
Ball got payback the next play.
It was a play-action pass to Phillips, who ran a drag route across the field to the left flat. In man coverage, Ball read the play quickly and made an impressive break to arrive a split-second after the pass, keeping Phillips from gaining the yard he needed to get into the end zone.
The Cowboys aren’t supposed to tackle during training camp, but Ball delivered a pretty good pop that put Phillips on the Alamdome turf.
“On the play before, he had put his hands on me,” Ball said. “I just had to give him a little love tap.”