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Cornerback Dominique Franks Ready For Big Role If Needed


When the Ravens brought in former Falcons cornerback Dominque Franks and a handful of other defensive backs for tryouts in June, he was initially hoping to catch on and earn a spot on the 90-man roster.

A little more than two months later, Franks could be in line for a critical role this season.

Injuries have hit the Ravens' secondary hard, as cornerbacks Lardarius Webb (back), Jimmy Smith (chest) and Asa Jackson (ankle) are all currently sidelined. The Ravens also lost veteran cornerback Aaron Ross for the season when he tore his Achilles running the conditioning test at the start of training camp.

The Ravens anticipate that Smith, Webb and Jackson will be ready Week 1, but the injuries have forced them to scramble in the meantime. And if the expected starters aren't ready in time, Franks could end playing a key role. 

"I definitely will be ready for that role if it's asked of me," Franks said. "The young guys get more reps here than anywhere else, and the way that we run practice you're going to be very prepared for the game, and you're going to be in shape."

Franks and Chykie Brown were the Ravens' top two cornerbacks last week against Dallas after Smith when down with an injury. Webb and Jackson also weren't playing.

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo went right at Franks, who was defending All-Pro wideout Dez Bryant one-on-one. Bryant snagged the 31-yard touchdown pass over Franks.

"That touchdown I gave up, I went back to the film and I actually learned some things for the next time I'm in that predicament," Franks said. "Dez is one of the best receivers in this league today, so getting work from him is good and it will prepare you for everybody."

Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh didn't put too much stock in Franks giving up the touchdown given the difficult assignment.

"I don't care who you are, in that situation, we're not probably going to game-plan that coverage in the regular season with any corner," Harbaugh said. "I don't want to say it was impossible, but that was a tough situation to put any corner in, so you don't worry about that too much against that kind of a player."

Franks ended up seeing a significant number of reps in the game and played well the rest of the contest. He has shown during his two months in Baltimore that he could provide some depth in the secondary given the injuries, and also handle game action if needed.

Franks, 6-foot and 197 pounds, started four games for the Falcons his second season in the NFL in 2011. He has primarily been a backup and special teamer the last two seasons, but he still has that valuable game experience.

"I started at the nickel and corner my second year, so I'm comfortable with both," Franks said. "It's just going out there and showing the coaches that I can play."

If everybody is healthy and able to return to the field, Franks would likely be the team's fifth cornerback going into the season. But that spot isn't necessarily a guarantee, as he's competing with undrafted rookies Tramain Jacobs, Deji Olatoye and Sammy Seamster.

Franks could likely get plenty of work over the final two preseason games against Washington and New Orleans, and have those opportunities to show that he belongs and can be counted on in key situations this season.

"It's always competition. I try not to look at it," Franks said. "When I come out here each day I just try to get better, and prove to the coaches and the guys that I can play. I don't get caught up in the numbers and things like that because at the end of the day you really don't know how things are going to pan out. You just have to go out there and try to prove yourself every day."

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