Aloha! Franks' all-star season

In the fourth of a series this week on Green Bay Packers participating in the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl, we take a look at Bubba Franks. The tight end earned his third straight trip to the Pro Bowl, despite finishing with the fewest number of catches as a pro.<p>

Franks had 30 catches for 241 yards and four touchdowns last season. He had 34 catches as a rookie in 2000, 36 and nine touchdowns in 2001, and 54 catches and seven touchdowns in 2002. While his numbers were down last season, he improved dramatically as a blocker for Pro Bowl running back Ahman Green.

"His blocking has really improved," Packers tight ends coach Jeff Jagodzinski said in October. "What he's doing now is he's finishing off his blocks. It's really helping our running game."

Still, it's all about numbers when fans, players and coaches cast their votes, so it was no big suprise that Alge Crumpler of Atlanta and Jeremy Shockey of the New York Giants were selected ahead of Franks. Franks was named as a first-alternate.

Crumpler was fifth among tight ends in the NFC with 44 catches and three touchdowns. Shockey finished second among tight ends in the NFC with 48 catches for 535 yards and two touchdowns. He withdrew from the all-star game in mid-January because of season-ending knee injury suffered Nov. 9, opening the door for Franks.

Franks is only the second Packers tight end to go to three straight Pro Bowls (Paul Coffman, 1982-84).

Franks' unselfishness helped the Packers become the NFL's third-ranked rushing attack in 2003. He often combined with offensive tackle Kevin Barry and Wesley Walls in the team's three-tight end groupings to create huge holes for Green on the right side of the line.

"I like catching passes, but run-blocking is the way we get touchdowns," Franks said. "I like doing whatever leads to the big play."

Franks will join three Packers teammates - center Mike Flanagan, Green and guard Marco Rivera - on the NFC all-star squad this Sunday in Honolulu.

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