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Franks turns heads early in camp

Big Zee

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Flowery Branch, GA – There are stories about rookies stepping onto the practice field in NFL training camps and immediately succumbing to everything at stake.

There are butterflies in the stomach, shaking hands, and even an occasional loss of the proverbial lunch.

But one Falcons rookie has navigated the high-profile terrain with particular aplomb.

When General Manager Thomas Dimitroff drafted Dominique Franks in the fifth round of this year’s NFL Draft he thought he was getting a young cornerback who could step in and compete for the role of return man on special teams immediately.

But in the interview process there may have been a glimpse of the player who has stolen some of the spotlight early in training camp at one of the most heated and contested position battles in the preseason process.

For Franks, it all started with a vision the night before training camp began last Friday of what he could accomplish.

There were no burdens of expectations weighing down the former Oklahoma First-Team All-Big 12 honoree. But it wasn’t because Franks was only the second junior drafted under the Dimitroff regime with the Falcons, a middle rounder at a deep position. Rather, it was because he approached his first day, and every day after it, with a veteran-like approach.

Do. My. Job.

“I’m really just focused on coming out here and playing,” Franks said on the second day of training camp. “This is a job that you’ve got to perform every day so you can’t take any days off or have your mind anywhere else except on football.”

Franks wasn’t worried about moving in, checking in with family or where he stood on the Falcons’ depth chart. His belongings were neatly tucked away in his room in the barn, the area of the indoor practice facility where the franchise boards the rookies.

The 22-year old believes being secluded as he embarks on his NFL career – a career he believes will have many highs – is exactly what he needs to do.

“I think it’s a good deal that we get to stay here at the facilities and don’t have too many off-field worries with friends calling all the time,” said Franks. “I think it’s good, but you’ve got to come out here and focus every day.”

Just as he planned, focus on football is exactly what he’s done. Franks has turned heads through the first week of camp, intercepting passes and breaking up others. He’s done his share of push-ups as well, a tradition with Falcons defensive backs when an interception falls from someone’s hands.

Head Coach Mike Smith has definitely noticed the play of his young rookie and has liked what he’s seen. His progress, according to the coach, has been exceptional.

“He’s gotten his hands on a lot of balls,” said Smith on Sunday. “I think he has come a long way in terms of understanding our scheme from the OTAs and the minicamp we had in May and June.”

The 6’, 197-pound corner knows the odds are still stacked against him with players like free-agent acquisition Dunta Robinson, veteran Brian Williams, and young emerging players like Chris Owens, Brent Grimes, and Chevis Jackson in front of him. A standout kick and punt returner in college, he believes there’s an opportunity to impact the team in that way in his rookie season.

But like everything on the field of play, he knows he has to earn it. Giving the coaching staff the confidence to put him in a role that determines field position in such a huge way is critical. He’s thankful to have the opportunity and just be in the mix.

“Whatever it takes for me to help this team win, I’m willing to do it,” he said. “Just the thought that the coaches have the faith in me to not even take over the role, but be a backup to it, is great. It’s just about going out there and performing and helping the coaches any way I can and give them the trust to put me out there on the field.”

For now, Franks doesn’t find any intimidation in sitting in a room with players who’ve found success in the league at his position. Every day he’s taking advantage, to ensure that he’ll someday be on that level as well.

“There are a lot of players in that meeting room that have been successful,” said Franks. “I just go in every day when I have a question, I know I have a great coach that I can ask or I can the older DBs. It doesn’t matter to me, it’s not intimidating. It’s a great learning curve for me. It makes me even better to have veteran guys like that around that have played the position, even the backups as well as the starters. It pays off for us younger guys coming in to feel more comfortable with the defense because we can ask more people.”

Franks is also as selfless and grounded as he is prepared.

When asked about his personal learning curve, he ignores the question and speaks of the rookies as a whole. When given a chance to clarify if being a player for the Falcons is the culmination of a life-long dream, he almost shakes his head as he repeats that this is all just the beginning.

But don’t mistake his humility with contentment.

Franks isn’t waiting for his opportunity to fall into his lap. And he’s already made it clear he’s going to be difficult to ignore.


This has been mentioned before many times this past weeks but this kid seems like a real steal in the 5th. I'm so jacked for this season to start!

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Another well written insightful article by Cox. If they AJC had any sense (they don't) they would give him DOL's job as the Falcons' beat writer. ...Of course, he is probably smart enough to not take a job with that antiquated sinking ship even if they were to offer him one.

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Im really interested to see where this kid is in the next few years

Still rocking #24 in red and black!! Lol the only thing I am nervous about is losing talent. We have so many talented CBs now that I don't want to lose any of them but we can't keep them all. Robinson will be here for the next 5 years. Owens at least the next 3. Jackson has 2 more. Grimes is in a contract year. and Franks. That is 5 corners that are shaping up that could all sharing starting roles on our team.

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I know there's always rookies everyone is all up in arms over, but this guy just made the 3rd round worth it. I mean, I thought we blew it hardcore with some picks in this year's draft, but then you look at a guy like Franks in the 5th and it makes up for a lot of it.

We didn't blow it in the third round, we got a smart, hard working player at a position of need in Corey Peters. ...and you never know how O-lineman are going to pan out with Johnson, even if he is getting beat by my boy Vance Walker right now. Dude played for the championship team out of the SEC, he'll catch on, I'm sure. Sorry we didn't get Jordan Shipley or whoever else you wanted, but we got some good guys.

It never ceases to impress me how well TD drafts hard workers and smart football players. From what I heard about Franks is that he fell partly because of character concerns, TD said they're were none and so far, I'd have to agree. Kid's got a good head on his shoulders it seems like and is going to go pretty far, I'd venture.

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TD does not view Franks as a back-up/special teamer other than transitionally.

The guy is a legit second rounder who fell in the draft due to some pedestrian combine numbers.

TD expects Franks to eventually start.

He is probably the highest rated CB on his own board that he has drafted as a Falcon GM.

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Dimitroff, Smith, Blank and all of our coaches must have an excellent judge of character.

Yet again they pick up a guy who is mature beyond his years, smart and knows exactly what is required of him. He knows his job and with his already evident attitude towards his blessing in life and his job, he'll go far!

I'm glad it will be with us, I can honestly seeing him owning an island of his own in a few years.

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Then again if Jackson plays good Williams might be the odd man out since he is older.

I was thinking this as well.

How many CB's do we keep?


How many Safeties?


So Robinson, Owens, Grimes, Franks and Jackson/Williams

and Coleman, DeCoud, Moore, Shan/Williams.

I thought I read somewhere that they might consider Williams as a CB/S tweener if needed.

I think the kid from Montana might be the odd man out and on his way to the PS if they decide to keep a vet presence on the squad in Williams.

Everyone but Shan would be scooped from the PS by someone else with a freaking quickness.

Or maybe we will keep a fifth S.

I ain't sure how many we usually keep, but 5 seems high.

Edited by Dedsquirl
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