Dallas Cowboys rookie offensive tackle Josh Ball is on the shelf for the foreseeable future.
Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy revealed Friday the fourth-round draft choice will miss “multiple weeks” due to an ankle injury — likely a high-ankle sprain. The injury occurred during a recent training camp practice.
“It’s an unlucky time for an absence for Ball,” noted David Helman of the official team website. “The Cowboys have been mixing and matching their personnel on the offensive line for the past week while looking for the right combination, but Ball is going to have at least a slight wait for a chance to get involved again.”
McCarthy allowed that Ball could return in time for Dallas’ Aug. 21 preseason game against the Houston Texans, though it’s just as plausible he’s stashed on injured reserve to open the regular season.
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Background on Ball
The Cowboys drew criticism this past April after using the No. 138 overall selection on Ball, who has a disturbing history of off-field issues. He was dismissed by Florida State in 2018 over multiple allegations of dating violence, 11 separate incidents “during which Ball showed aggressive behavior, including physical harm” to the victim, reported Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News, who added, “There was also one incident involving a member of the Florida St. football staff.”
Upon his banishment from the Seminoles program, Ball spent the 2018 campaign at Butler Community College before receiving an offer from Marshall. He made one start for the Thundering Herd in 2019 and eight games in 2020, earning first-team All-CUSA honors.
“He displays good overall athleticism and body control in his pass sets,” The Draft Network’s Drae Harris wrote prior to the draft. “Ball also displays good initial quickness out of his stance and plays with good knee bend, helping him with leverage as such a big-bodied blocker up front. His excellent length and range on the edge make it challenging for rushers to bend and turn the corner on him when he gets good depth in his set. He has good flexibility in his ankles, which helps him anchor and handle the bull rush effectively if defenders try to roll through his frame. Ball demonstrates the lateral agility to redirect on counters and hard inside moves. Although Ball has moments of getting his feet in the neutral zone through leg drive, he’s not a consistent vertical mover in the run game. He may be a little under-bulked but appears to have the frame to add mass as NFL teams feel would be necessary to unlock further potential. Ball could certainly afford to get stronger so that he can anchor better and get stronger with his initial punch. Most notably, he was dismissed from Florida State and the reasons for his departure must be researched throughout the process.”
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Dallas did extensive background work on Ball and apparently came away assured his checkered past will remain behind him. Speaking to football matters, he was supposed to compete for the primary swing tackle role behind veteran starters Tyron Smith and La’el Collins.
With Ball sidelined, the Cowboys will rotate the likes of Brandon Knight, Ty Nsekhe, Isaac Alarcon, and Terence Steele as second- and third-team OT options for the duration of training camp.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL