Franks in position to have big season

PackerReport.com's Todd Korth explains why veteran tight end Bubba Franks will be one of Brett Favre's top targets this season.

While most Packers fans are happy that Brett Favre is back, they should be equally as excited that Bubba Franks is, too. Unlike Favre, Franks' decision to return to play football this season was never an issue. The main concern with Franks is his health, but that's not an issue anymore.

"I'm all right," Franks said as the team concluded its three-day mini-camp on Sunday. "I'm 100 percent."

The Pro Bowl tight end missed six games last season, including the final two games on injured reserve with neck and back injuries. Franks sprained his knee early in the season, snapping his games-played streak at 82 (88 including the playoffs). Later in the season, he sustained a neck injury while getting tackled in a game against Philadelphia. Franks came back a week later only to get nailed by linebacker Lance Briggs in a helmet-to-helmet collision on an incomplete pass that injured his neck and back.

Franks finished with career lows of 25 catches for 207 yards and one touchdown, a disappointing season for the three-time Pro Bowl selection who signed a seven-year, $28 million extension last August.

But that was then, and this is now. Franks took part in the Packers' weekend mini-camp and appears to be back to normal.

"That was last year," Franks said. "I'm not worried about that at all. It was a slight mishap. It was nothing long-term. It was gone in a couple of months."

Having Franks back 100 percent healthy and participating in mini-camps and training camp this year will be huge for the offense. Last year, he didn't participate in the off-season camps and most of training camp because he was named as Green Bay's "transition player" and was not under contract till he signed his multi-year deal.

The reps he gets with Favre will be invaluable in Mike McCarthy's version of the West Coast offense, which likely will feature the tight end more than the offense under Mike Sherman.

Other than Donald Driver, the Packers' receiving corp is young, or new to the team. Franks and Favre have played together since Franks was selected in the first round by the Packers in 2000. It only seems natural that Favre will be looking for Franks often if Driver is getting double-teamed. It's also a good bet that McCarthy will try to "stretch the field" more with his tight ends, than Sherman did in the past.

"We'll see. He's been stretching the field with us for the whole time we were in camp," Franks said. "Hopefully we can keep it up a little bit."

The Packers had a chance to upgrade their tight end position by selecting Maryland's Vernon Davis in the recent draft. General manager Ted Thompson, instead, continued to strengthen the defense and fill a major need by selecting Ohio State's A.J. Hawk. By selecting Hawk, the Packers indirectly indicated that they have confidence in Franks' ability to return to his Pro Bowl form.

With a solid off-season and training camp, Franks will be on track to have a very productive 2006 season.


Todd Korth

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


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