Franks To Join Teammates And End Lonely Summer

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While his Packers teammates practiced, tight end Bubba Franks spent the last several months working out at the University of Miami (Fla.) with fellow alumni including Buffalo Bills running back Willis McGahee, Indianapolis Colts running back Edgerrin James and Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed.

But then they left for training camp. And then the school's strength coaches left.

"It kind of makes you feel lonely," Franks said.

He can now soak in the camaraderie of the Green Bay Packers after agreeing to a multi-year contract with the team on Wednesday night. The deal could ensure the tight end finishes his career with the team that drafted him in the first round of the 2000 draft.

"I didn't want to be one of those players who bounce from team to team, changing jersey colors, jersey numbers." he said. "I started here, and I want to finish here. Now I want to win here."

After missing almost all of training camp, the newly-signed tight end will not play on Friday night versus the New England Patriots, but his signing comes at an opportune time. Injuries have sidelined tight ends David Martin (groin) and Steve Fleming (ankle). Now the Packers can welcome their starting tight end to the practice field.

"We're very excited about it," general manager Ted Thompson said. "It's been a long, long spring for Bubba and his representatives and for the Packers. In the end both sides wanted to come together."

Franks was clearly excited as well. He pumped his arms as he strutted to the podium.

Franks made the Pro Bowl in three consecutive years from 2001 to 2003 and hopes to build on that portfolio.

"Before all is said and done, I want to be known as the best tight end in Packers history," he said.

He caught 34 passes for 361 yards and seven touchdowns last year, but his durability may be his most important quality. He has played in 80 consecutive games and never has missed an NFL game due to injury.

"The guy does his job every day," head coach Mike Sherman said. "I have tremendous trust in him."

Former Miami (Fla.) players often train at the school during the offseason, and the sessions are reknown for their intensity. Franks worked out regularly and weighs 258 pounds, his weight during the last four months of the 2004 season.

"I'm in pretty good shape," he said. "As far as football shape, I don't know. I mean football shape is totally different than just running all day."

Franks looks forward to reacquainting himself with another player who underwent a rigorous offseason workout routine, quarterback Brett Favre.

"I can't wait to see him," said Franks, who watched the Packers play on television. "He's looked pretty good over these last two preseason games. I kind of miss that little guy."

The days of pining for his teammates are over as Franks will remain a Green Bay Packers player for the foreseeable future.

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