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Cornerback Dominique Franks envisions versatile role with Ravens

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Now that the Ravens have signed Dominique Franks after a successful minicamp tryout, the veteran cornerback is set on forging a versatile role.

When Franks was with the Atlanta Falcons the past four seasons, he lined up inside and outside as a cornerback and nickel back.

The former second-team All-Big 12 selection from Oklahoma also played a handful of games at safety and has good size for a cornerback, at 6 feet, 197 pounds.

"Versatility is what I bring," Franks said in a telephone interview Friday afternoon, one day after he signed his contract following a three-day audition at the Ravens minicamp that ended Thursday. "I'm a guy on the back end that has that versatility. With my size and speed, they can put me in various situations. Nickel, dime, corner, all of those things.

"What happened with me in Atlanta helped me a lot to show that I'm a utility guy. They can plug me in anywhere. I'll be studying the game film and picking out the little things we can do to help each other out, not only individually, but as a team to help the Ravens win."

During his tryout with the Ravens, Franks said the defensive scheme was similar in some ways to what he did at Oklahoma. He met with secondary coach Steve Spagnuolo to get accustomed to the verbiage of the playbook, and Franks said veteran cornerbacks Lardarius Webb, Jimmy Smith and Chykie Brown and safeties Matt Elam and Darian Stewart gave him helpful advice.

Franks made several plays in practice, breaking quickly on the football to break up passes.

"Everything went well for me," Franks said. "It made it real easy for me to play and not have to think too much. The guys made all of us comfortable, even though we were trying out and not really on the team yet. They treated us like teammates right away and wanted us to succeed."

The Ravens signed Franks and former New York Giants cornerback Aaron Ross to one-year contracts. They wanted to create competition for the nickel and dime cornerback positions against Brown and Asa Jackson.

"I didn't even want to know any of that, as far as their situation," Franks said of the team's depth chart. "I was just excited to have a chance to go to a team and do drills. Now that I'm on the team, I want to play special teams, do whatever they want me to do.

"When we get into training camp, everything will be totally different. I'm focused on learning as much as I can and prove every day at practice that I belong."

Franks said he was impressed by the high-speed tempo of the Ravens' practices, in which sets of players practice simultaneously on different practice fields to maximize the amount of repetitions in their limited time.

"I can tell by the way they practice why they've won a lot of games around here," Franks said. "Having the 'double-down' on the two fields, that was different. It was good to see the mindset of the coaches. You can understand why the organization has been successful."

Drafted by the Falcons in the fifth round in 2010, Franks, 26, has 30 career tackles, three interceptions and nine passes defended in four NFL seasons with four career starts.

Franks played in all but one game as a reserve cornerback last season for the Falcons. He was released during their final major roster cutdown and was re-signed after working out for the Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers.

"I'm just going to be a good guy," Franks said. "The Ravens don't have to worry about me getting in trouble. I'm also going to be a great teammate. I like to learn. Everything comes back to helping the team win.

"The Ravens are blessing me with the opportunity to keep playing the game that I love. I've got to do the best I can to show and prove that I can play in this league and help the Baltimore Ravens win."

awilson@baltsun.com

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FootballPro FootballBaltimore RavensAtlanta FalconsDominique FranksOklahoma SoonersMiami Dolphins
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