NFC South: marcus ball

The NFL released offseason calendars for all 32 teams on Thursday. New Orleans Saints players will begin their conditioning program on April 21, and they will hold four weeks of offseason training activities and minicamp practices from May 27 through June 19.

Portions of the three-day minicamp from June 10-12 may be open to the public. However, the OTAs (May 27-29, June 3-5 and June 16-19) are typically closed to the public.

The Saints have not yet announced their starting date for training camp, which will begin at the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia sometime in late July.

The Times-Picayune’s Jeff Duncan tweeted he’s hearing the Saints’ first preseason game in early August will likely be on the road at a site near their camp -- possibly Baltimore, Pittsburgh or Washington.

All-time best picks: WWLTV.com’s Bradley Handwerger broke down the best draft choices in each round in Saints history. Among the closest calls in my mind: Archie Manning or Willie Roaf for Round 1; Jimmy Graham, Pat Swilling or Tommy Myers for Round 3; and Morten Andersen or Jahri Evans for Round 4.

Ball ‘excited’: Newly-signed safety Marcus Ball joined the Saints’ daily Black and Blue Report podcast. The former Canadian Football League standout said he’s excited about the move.

Super Bowl favorites? Duncan also broke down why he thinks the 2018 Super Bowl is New Orleans’ game to lose. Hard to disagree with his reasoning.
The New Orleans Saints plucked another defensive back from the Canadian Football League on Wednesday, agreeing to a three-year contract with former Toronto Argonauts safety Marcus Ball.

Ball (6-foot-1, 209 pounds) will compete for a roster spot as a backup safety and special-teamer. The Saints certainly had a void there, with only three other safeties on the roster (Jairus Byrd, Kenny Vaccaro and still unsigned restricted free agent Rafael Bush).

Ball’s signing shouldn’t affect the Saints’ interest in veteran cornerback Champ Bailey in any way. It’s unknown if the Saints have offered Bailey a contract. ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported Tuesday that Bailey had planned to visit at least one other team, depending on how things went with the Saints.

Ball is the second CFL transfer the Saints have signed this offseason, following former Calgary Stampeders cornerback Derrius Brooks.

Ball was listed as a linebacker for the Argonauts. But he essentially played the same type of attacking strong safety role Roman Harper played in previous years for the Saints, according to Stampeders assistant general manager John Murphy, a longtime football scout based out of Metairie, La.

Ball began his college career at Florida State, but he was one of the athletes caught up in a wide-ranging academic fraud scandal. He finished his college career at Memphis. He then became a standout player for two seasons in Toronto with 142 tackles, seven sacks, four interceptions, two touchdown returns and three fumble recoveries.

“He was highly productive the past two years as both a defender and on special teams,” Murphy said. “He’s been timed in the mid-4.5s [in the 40-yard dash]. A very good hitter in the open field and created a large number of turnovers. He showed the ability to make plays as a blitzer and was also a team leader.”

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