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Neiron Ball making most of limited opportunities for Raiders

Raiders second-year linebacker Neiron Ball played just nine snaps during Thursday's exhibition and had three tackles, including a sack. Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Yes, you can say Neiron Ball made the most of his limited opportunities on Thursday night in the Oakland Raiders' exhibition loss at the Green Bay Packers.

And then some.

Ball played just nine snaps in the 20-12 defeat, but the outside linebacker had three tackles, including a third-quarter sack of Joe Callahan on third-and-goal at the Raiders' 5-yard line.

"That goes for any player; you've got to make plays to get noticed by the coaches," Ball said following practice on Saturday. "That's what you've got to do as a football player -- make plays to win games."

Ball, a fifth-round pick of the 2015 draft who celebrated his 24th birthday on Saturday, has had an uneven, injury-filled camp that has seen him miss the occasional practice after a rookie season shortened by a knee injury that would require two surgeries.

The pass coverage specialist played just six games last year, starting two opposite Aldon Smith, before going down with the injured knee in the first quarter at the San Diego Chargers on Oct. 25.

The time off has given him time to reflect and take in the game.

"I definitely make mental notes and make sure I'm locked in, in the game, see what the offense is giving us so when my time comes, I'm ready," he said.

"It's tough to go through injuries and have to sit out a day and then (try to) get back in the hang of things. ... I want to play so bad; I mean, I'm locked in at all times."

Only linebacker Lenny Jones and defensive tackle Leon Orr played fewer snaps for the Raiders at Green Bay than did Ball, with seven and six, respectively. And neither player was credited with a tackle.

"My mindset is to make a play," Ball said. "Definitely make a play, stay within the scheme, do what the coaches want me to do and just make a play."

In the preseason opener at the Arizona Cardinals, Ball also had three tackles ... but in 19 snaps.

"I've still got a lot of work to do, man," he said. "I've still got a lot of work to do. I'm working out here every day, getting better, man, trying to get better every day."