When Eric Weems left the Falcons this offeason to go to the Chicago Bears, I’ll admit I was a little worried. Special teams doesn’t always win or lose games, but you certainly must pay a good deal of attention to that phase of the game or you WILL get beat. Who was going to replace the kick return and punt return abilities that Eric Weems had brought over the past few years?
I think the answer came Thursday night as Dominique Franks did a very good job as a punt returner. On the first punt of the game, he called for a fair catch when nobody was within ten yards of him. He had to at least try to get a yard or two out of it. Granted, I don’t have eleven rabid individuals trying to rip the ball away from me, and I don’t know what the punt coverage looked like from his position, but I feel like he could have gotten a little something out of the return. Let’s chalk it up to early game duties.
The second punt, however, was outstanding. Franks found a lane, made a man miss, and used his speed to scoot down the field. He would have scored if he hadn’t been cornered by the punter who made the tackle.
It was a good play. It may have simply been blind luck, and it’s never a good thing to read too much into a preseason game. But Franks decision making as to when to take the ball out and when not to, field vision to find and hit the lane, and ball security was great. It was a big play, something that we will need to see more of in the future, and we can look forward to on special teams.
Franks may never be anything special on defense. He may be one day, but I’m not counting on that. However, he can still be a vital contributor as a returner on special teams. If he can effectively replace Eric Weems, he is going to be good for this team.