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Franks hoping to bolster secondary
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At 5-foot-11 and 194 pounds, defensive back Dominique Franks was one of the most dynamic players taken in this year’s NFL Draft. The former Oklahoma Sooner was picked in the fifth round by the Falcons, who were looking to bolster a pass defense that finished 28th in the league last season. Franks signed a four-year deal with the Falcons on June 16 and may compete on special teams as well as defense this coming season. The Times’ sports reporter James Wolfe spoke with Franks after the last day of Falcons’ Organized Team Actvities about his early challenges in the NFL, coaching middle school football, and what he thinks about Oklahoma staying in the Big-12 Conference.

Question: How did your last OTA go?

Answer: To be honest it was my best one. I really feel like I’m starting to get ahold of the type of focus I have to have at this level.

Q: Why do you feel that this practice was your best so far?

A: Just because I was able to run around and get my hands on a couple of balls. I guess I was a little nervous to start and I wanted so badly to do good that I was second guessing myself instead of just playing the game.

Q: Besides second guessing yourself, what has been your biggest challenge so far?

A: Just trying to learn a little bit of the nickel package (a defensive formation). I really feel like I’m starting to grasp certain concepts that I gotta have to be able to play in that defense. We didn’t run it a lot in college, so I’m having to learn it from the bottom up.

Q: Do you think you’ll have it down by the time full practices start?

A: I think so. I just have to keep studying, keep coming in a watching film and asking the other guys at the position what they look for when they do certain things and stuff like that. The older guys and the coaches have been a big help so far, so I think that I’ll have the formation down by the time we put on the pads for real.

Q: How did it feel when you found out that the negotiations were over and you could sign your contract?

A: Just relief. Complete relief. It feels great, this is my first job so being able to sign is a big relief.

Q: Some draft analysts had originally projected that you would be drafted in the first or second round. Were you disappointed you didn’t get chosen until the fifth round of the draft?

A: Not really. I knew going in that I would go around then. I’m just happy I was picked; especially by the Falcons. This is where I wanted to come and it’s just the perfect place for me.

Q: You were an multidisciplinary studies major at Oklahoma, if you weren’t playing football what would you be doing?

A: I would really hope I’d be coaching.

Q: Is that what you want to do when your career is over?

A: Definitely. I want to start at the middle school level.

Q: Why middle school?

A: In Oklahoma we don’t really have the coaching that is necessary at a young age to be better football players in high school and to be ready for college. That’s why I want to start at the middle school age when I get into coaching, I love the developmental aspect of the game.

Q: Were you happy when you heard that Oklahoma was staying in the Big-12 Conference?

A: Absolutely. I don’t think Oklahoma fits in with the Pac-10. The Big-12 is a great conference, with all the rivalries between OU, Texas and Oklahoma State, so I’m glad they stayed.

Q: Your main role at Oklahoma was defensive back, but a lot of people have said that, because of your size and speed, that you might able to play safety for the Falcons. Have you spent any time there?

A: Not really. I’ve just been focusing on learning my main position.

Q: You also spent time in college on the special teams, mainly returning and covering punts. Do you think you’ll get a shot at that in the NFL?

A: I hope so. I just want to get on the field as much as possible, so whatever the coaches want me to do, I’ll do it.

Q: Do you like returning or covering punts more?

A: Oh man, I don’t know. I like to run them back, but I like open-field hitting. That’s a tough one. Not sure I can pick between the two.

Q: Do you think the Sooners have a shot at the championship this season?

A: The Sooners always have a shot at the title, man. Always.
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