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Franks faces challenge after disappointing season

(May 20, 2007) -- Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy says no starting jobs were won or lost during the team's three-day minicamp over the weekend.

That's good news for Bubba Franks, who had to share a significant amount of practice time as the first-team tight end with Donald Lee.

After failing to catch a single touchdown during a disappointing 2006 season, Franks knows he will have to compete for playing time this year and says he's returning with a fresh attitude.

The veteran went home to Miami to clear his head in the offseason. After some introspection, he admits he was being selfish last year.

"I'm more of a team player now," Franks said. "I think last year, it got to the point where I was thinking about myself. I was selfish. It comes a time in a person's career where you think you're the only one out there. But I wasn't. This year, it's going to be totally different."

This year, Franks has resolved to put the team first.

"It's a clean slate," Franks said. "And I'm to the point in my career, after going home and thinking about it, I'm not going to have a problem with (anybody) upstairs or downstairs this year. I'm about winning. Regardless of who catches the ball, who scores the points, I want to win a Super Bowl. And we haven't even been close since I've been here."

Franks said he went to the Chicago Bears-Indianapolis Colts Super Bowl in Miami as a fan, and the experience stoked his desire to win a championship.

"I was up there as a fan, watching, instead of being on the field," Franks said. "That was the first time I got to experience that, and I want that. I want that more than anything. More than anything. More than 10 touchdown catches."

Franks also says he got leaner in the offseason, cutting out "a lot of treats."

Such as?

"Oreos, Twinkies, Dunkin' Donuts, Krispie Kremes - all the good stuff," Franks said.

McCarthy praised Franks for coming back in better shape. At the same time, McCarthy made it clear that there will be competition at tight end in training camp this year.

"We are adjusting some things as we move forward with the tight end position, and I think we have excellent competition," McCarthy said. "But Bubba Franks is a veteran football player, and we're expecting him to contribute to our football team."

McCarthy said Lee, an athletic 6-foot-4 tight end who signed with the Packers as a free agent before the 2005 season, showed his potential while working with the first team in minicamp.

"I think he really showed up in the vertical passing game, which we obviously need - it generates big plays, particularly from the inside positions," McCarthy said.

The Packers need more scoring from their tight ends to help fix a red zone offense that was among the league's worst last season. McCarthy said he and the coaches have to do more to get the tight ends involved in the offense inside their opponents' 20. When that happens, the tight ends must produce.

"They will be given those opportunities, and we just need to increase the productivity of it," McCarthy said.

Franks used to be one of Brett Favre's favorite targets in the red zone, and Franks believes he can be that player again.

"I have to make my role change," Franks said. "If it doesn't change, it's because of me. But if I go out and practice and show everybody, 'Hey, I should be getting the ball,' in the red zone or wherever, that's on me. I feel like I'm going to prove that this minicamp, this training camp."

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