Position preview: TE's

Franks faces options as deadline approaches

Bubba Franks, who was named the team's "transition player" this off-season, is expected to be re-signed to a long-term deal by the Green Bay Packers. But as training camp nears, Franks and the Packers have made little, if any, movement toward a new deal.

Franks has until 3 p.m. (CT) today to sign an offer from another team. After today, he can either sign Green Bay's tender offer for one year at $2.095 million, or negotiate a long-term deal with the Packers. He is not required to report to the start of training camp next week because he is not under contract with the team.

Franks, selected in the first round by the Packers in 2000, caught 34 passes for 361 yards and seven touchdowns in 2004. He was an alternate for the Pro Bowl after being named to the NFC squad the previous three seasons.

Franks has always been a big target, especially in the "red zone" for Brett Favre, and has improved his blocking while in Green Bay. The knock against him is his inability to consistently stretch the field and catch longer passes over the middle.

Fifth-year pro David Martin is expected to play behind Franks with Ben Steele, Sean McHugh, Garrett Cross and Steve Fleming battling for the third and final roster spot. But Martin has to show some durability during training camp, or risk getting cut. He has been slowed by injuries ever since the Packers selected him in the sixth round of the 2001 NFL Draft. Martin has the ability to catch deep passes over the middle when healthy. He has missed 17 games in his first four seasons with Green Bay, including the last seven games of the season last year with a knee injury.

"He seems stronger," Packer coach Mike Sherman said of Martin near the end of the June minicamp. "I know it's tough to evaluate blocking, but he seems like he has a good base and his leg strength and foot quickness in his blocking is better than I remember last season. So I think he's doing well.

"Obviously his biggest thing is staying on the field and being consistent from that vantage point. He's been consistently out here and doing a good job, so I'm hopeful that he'll step in."

Steele weighs about 15 pounds more than he played most of last season, but he has to show that he can catch the ball more consistently and block better.

Sean McHugh, a former fullback at Penn State, was signed to the Packers' 53-man roster after he was let go in the Tennessee Titans' final cut last season. McHugh was released early in the season and then signed to the team's practice squad. He was promoted to the active roster in late December of last year.

Garrett Cross played with Aaron Rodgers since the two were in junior college. He may have an outside chance of making the team because of that relationship. Undrafted rookie Steve Fleming out of Arizona will also will be competing for a roster spot. Cross missed most of the June minicamp with a sprained ankle, and Fleming was not signed until the camp was completed. Projected starter: Bubba Franks
Undisputed starter that the Packers need to re-sign as soon as possible.

Projected reserves: David Martin, Ben Steele
Martin will be the top backup but has to stay healthy in camp. Steele has a slight edge over Sean McHugh. The winner of the No. 3 spot will have to play well on special teams.

On the bubble: Sean McHugh, Garrett Cross, Steve Fleming
McHugh was promoted to the active roster last season and has a chance if Steele falters in camp. Cross and Fleming are longshots and will be doing everything possible to get reps in practice.

Todd Korth

Note: Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report. E-mail him at packrepted@aol.com.

Packer Report Top Stories