FLOWERY BRANCH — Until last Sunday, Dominique Franks had never played safety. But he was called in replace Hope when he left the game to be examined for a head injury.
“You just always have to be ready,” Franks said. “I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can. I got a chance to get out there and play a little bit of safety.”
Franks has played outside at cornerback and has been the primary nickel back, covering receivers in the slot. At safety, it’s a whole new ball game.
“Really, you have to be more patient,” Franks said. “You are the last defense back there. You have to make sure that you don’t give up the big play and if anything breaks, you’ve got to come up and make sure you make the tackle.”
Franks returns: Some fans on twitter have taken to calling Franks “Fair Catch Franks.” He has 17 fair catches and 20 punt returns for 154 yards (7.7 per return).
His 17 fair catches are seventh-most in the league behind Jets returner Jeremy Kerley (31), Minnesota’s Marcus Sherels (26), Philadelphia’s Damaris Johnson (22), Green Bay’s Randall Cobb (21), Detroit’s Stefan Logan (20) and Miami’s Davonne Bess (18), according to NFL.com stats.
His 7.7 yards per return is 21st in the league among players with at least 20 returns or more. Buffalo’s Leodis McKelvin leads the league with an 18.7 averaged and two touchdowns.
“Really, it’s just whatever I see back there,” Franks said. “Really, it’s just make a play. That’s all it is. Every play is different.”
In the loss to the Saints at New Orleans, the Falcons let Harry Douglas return a punt late when they were trying to bust a big return. Perhaps, they’ve been keeping him on ice for the playoffs?