On the Ball

The Dolphins got themselves a solid acquisition this week when they claimed center Jason Ball off waivers from the San Diego Chargers.

The Dolphins were able to land Ball by virtue of their league-worst record, which gives them first dibs on all waiver claims.

In Ball, the Dolphins get a starting-caliber offensive lineman with plenty of toughness.

So why did the Chargers let him go?

You probably can look back to the offseason when Ball got involved in a contract dispute. He would miss the first six days of the regular season before accepting the Chargers' one-year tender as an exclusive-rights free agent.

The thing was that the Chargers drafted another center, Nick Hardwick, in the third round of the 2004 draft and Hardwick has been impressive. Hardwick became the starter until he was injured and Ball replaced him for two games.

But when Hardwick was healthy again, he returned to the starting lineup, Ball was back on the bench and not very happy about it.

The Chargers said the move to release Ball was purely a football decision, but there's a strong feeling the Chargers just didn't want an unhappy camper on their team.

With the Dolphins, Ball could eventually compete with Seth McKinney for the starting job at center, or he could influence the Dolphins to move McKinney to guard and start Ball at center.

At the very least, Ball provides additional depth on an offensive line that needs all the talent it can get.

In other news:

-- Kicker Olindo Mare did not work on Thursday, which might be a sign he won't be ready to return to action Monday night against the Jets. On the flip side, safety Antuan Edwards, linebacker Morlon Greenwood and running back Sammy Morris all practiced after sitting out Wednesday.

-- To make room on the roster for Ball, the Dolphins released defensive end Ronald Flemons, who had been activated from the practice squad after Chidi Ahanotu walked out on the team.


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