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Bubba Franks Receives Dose Of Good News


Bubba Franks left Sunday's game on a stretcher, but medical examinations showed his neck injury to be less severe than originally feared.

"Everything came back very positively," Head Coach Mike Sherman said.

Thirty-nine seconds into the second quarter of Sunday's game, Franks turned inside to make a reception when Philadelphia Eagles safety Brian Dawkins hit him with his shoulder. The blow sent Franks to the turf. After the play Dawkins and other Eagles players prayed for him as trainers and doctors wheeled him away on a stretcher.

As a precautionary measure Franks stayed overnight in a Philadelphia hospital. Sherman talked to him over the telephone on Sunday night. He said Franks was doing well.

"He was in good spirits," Sherman said. "He was experiencing a little bit of back pain, but nothing to the extent that he was yesterday on the field."

Franks was scheduled to fly back to Green Bay, Wis. on Monday. He has recovered quickly enough that playing on Sunday remains a possibility.

"Don't rule him out for sure. We'll see how he reacts when he comes back here," Sherman said. "It depends on what the doctors say."

Franks' possible return should not come as a surprise. The six-year veteran has earned a reputation for his toughness and durability. He never missed a game in the NFL before a knee injury caused him to miss two games this season.

If Franks cannot go, the Packers have good tight end depth with David Martin and Donald Lee. They have combined for 348 yards and five touchdowns.

"We are fortunate, we think, to have three pretty good tight ends," offensive coordinator Tom Rossley said.

Franks' absence would still serve as significant. His presence allows the team to use three tight end packages, and he possesses exemplary blocking skills. The coaching staff has such confidence in him against the point of attack that they can line him up against a defensive end.

"Bubba's a really good blocker," Rossley said. "He's more physical than the other two although David Martin has gotten better."

The Packers have had a scary injury history of late. Rookie Terrence Murphy injured his neck during a kickoff return in Week 4 against the Carolina Panthers.

Jacksonville Jaguars safety Donovin Darius clotheslined Robert Ferguson on Dec. 19, 2004. The hit ended Ferguson's season and nearly paralyzed him.

Donald Driver sprained his neck midway through the fourth quarter of the 2003 season opener against the Minnesota Vikings when he landed on his head while jumping to catch a pass.

Franks' injury, however, should not keep him out long. The medical team immobilized him during the game mainly for precautionary reasons.

"A lot of what they did yesterday was in a response to a player who had severe back pain at the time," Sherman said. "In the old days you probably put him on the bus and the plane and bring him back home."

As a stretcher removed him from the field, Franks raised two fingers to the crowd, showing he could move his extremities.

On Sunday night doctors gave him clearance to return to Green Bay.

"We did all the tests there," Sherman said. "Now we're bringing him home."


Other Injuries: ReShard Lee was scheduled to have his ribs examined on Monday. ... Jeremy Thornburg sprained his shoulder during Sunday's game. "It will probably keep him out of action for some time," Sherman said. ... Robert Thomas (shoulder) and Corey Williams (calf) were scheduled to run for the conditioning staff on Monday for further evaluation. ... William Henderson showed no ill effects from a concussion suffered on Sunday, but the team will continue to test him.

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