Dave Ball: The biggest thing I have learned after spending time in the NFL is that everyone is incredibly talented. While one team's scheme may not be right for me or fit my strengths, the goal is to find the team that complements my strengths and utilizes my abilities and natural talents.
JC: Now that you have played under five different head coaches, do you have a feel for which coaching style you work best under?
DB: While playing with the Chargers, I was under Coach Marty (Schottenheimer). He was a very passionate, hard-nosed coach and used extreme discipline. He demanded a first-class level of performance and expected an aggressive, physical style of play. We played in pads all year-round.
DE Dave Ball
Now that I'm playing for the Titans, I am under Coach Jeff Fisher. He definitely takes care of the team and every player as an individual. He expects us to work hard and play hard in every game but he then recognizes the need to relax.
When I was with the Chargers, I was fresh out of college and needed Marty's aggression and toughness. I don't think I can say the same now because I have my own drive, aggression and toughness and don't rely on a coach to push me to that area.
JC: You've spent the last four years playing in a 3-4 defense. How has it been transitioning back to a 4-3?
DB: It has turned out to be more difficult than I initially thought. In the 3-4 defense, my job was to take out blockers. The transition to the 4-3 defensive scheme has made me develop a new frame of mind. It is all about attacking all linemen and playing in the backfield. I do feel like I am getting more used to the new scheme, but it has taken a lot of hard work.
JC: After being an accomplished pass-rusher in college, you're still seeking your first sack in the NFL. How strong is that itch?
DB: Of course it will be nice when I get my first sack, but I don't allow myself to get bogged down on stats. Of course it is frustrating, but I try to always look at the bigger picture. I know that playing hard and getting better is the most important thing. I am constantly looking for new ways to challenge myself. I think staying in the game and staying healthy are extremely important aspects in my position.
JC: You play behind a former All Pro player in Jevon Kearse and next to another one in Albert Haynesworth. What have you been able to learn from those two?
DB: Those guys showed a relentless type of dedication that was inspiring and that dedication is key in this game. But, at this point, it is hard learning new stuff. The goal is to get better with what has been given to me and foster my own individual talents. But their dedication is something every player should mimic.
JC: Do you still stay in touch with any of your old teammates from San Diego?
DB: All of those guys are great guys and I used to keep in touch with them when I was with the Jets. Although I don't remain in good contact, I know they are solid guys and I love San Diego in itself. When it's all said and done and I reach retirement mode, I fully intend on moving back to San Diego. It is truly one of my favorite places and, who knows, maybe some of those guys will be around there then, too.
JC: How much time do you spend back California?
DB: I actually went to Northern Cal last offseason. I saw the UCLA versus Notre Dame football game last season, which was great. Being that I went to UCLA, I do try and go get back to a game every now and then. But like I already said, I want to retire in San Diego because I really do enjoy everything about that area and lifestyle.