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Franks happy to continue catching passes from Favre

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- Bubba Franks used to be one of Brett Favre's go-to guys in Green Bay.

Reunited with the New York Jets, the big tight end is reassuming that role.

"I'm here when he needs me," said Franks, who played with Favre for eight seasons with the Packers. "Our lockers are right next to each other. I'm here if he needs me. If he has any questions, he knows who to ask."

Favre called on Franks often when the two were in Green Bay, connecting 29 times for touchdowns.

"He's been the only guy who's ever thrown the ball to me for eight years," Franks said, "so go ahead and make it a ninth."

Franks signed with the Jets in March, so he has had lots of time to get familiar with his new surroundings. Favre, acquired from the Packers last Wednesday, is getting a crash course in life after Green Bay. The iconic quarterback might have recognized cornerback Ahmad Carroll, a former Packers first-rounder, and wide receiver David Clowney, a fifth-round pick by Green Bay last year, but it's Franks who gives Favre someone to lean on.

"My main job is to keep his smile on, keep him happy," Franks said. "Every now and then, you can come to a situation like this and lose your focus. Brett's handling it well. He's starting to have fun out there."

And, it's showing.

Through three days and four practices with the Jets, Favre has shown little signs of rust on his rocket right arm. He hit Jerricho Cotchery on a smooth 35-yard toss down the right sideline Sunday, and later that day, tossed a pretty spiral that hit Cotchery in stride down the left sideline for 75 yards, about 65 yards in the air.

On Monday, Favre connected with Laveranues Coles while running the 2-minute offense, hitting the receiver for 31 yards on a timing pattern in the end zone.

"I think the main thing is he finally understands the offense," Franks said. "He's only been here three days and guys are starting to realize why he's Brett Favre. He's done some good things in three days. I told them to just wait until he gets comfortable. Then they'll see."

The Jets received a break from practice Tuesday, and Favre was given two days off from speaking with the media after a whirlwind first few days after joining the Jets.

"He's just getting comfortable," Franks said. "He's starting to play around with the defense a little bit. Everyone wants to pick off Brett's ball. Now he's giving them a couple of different looks. There's a pump fake, sometimes there's two, and then he goes deep on them. Not many people realize how quick his release is and it's starting to show. The guy can still play football."

Franks is trying to prove the same of himself after a couple of subpar seasons. The 6-foot-6 tight end was a first-round pick in 2000 and quickly became a favorite target for Favre. Franks caught a career-high nine touchdown passes in his second season and earned the first of three straight Pro Bowl berths while establishing himself as one of the league's top red-zone threats.

He played in only 10 games in 2005 because of knee and neck injuries, had 25 catches the following season and was benched in favor of Donald Lee last year after injuries and inconsistency limited him to 18 catches in eight games.

"When you've been in only one system from college, then you come to a new system, it's a new system, it's new people, new coaches, everything is different," coach Eric Mangini said during minicamp. "He's been very good at studying. He's been very good at setting an example of how to work at practice."

Franks refused to get caught up in the speculation in the days leading up to the Jets' trade for Favre, but was thrilled when he heard it was a done deal.

"I'm one of those guys: I believe it when I see it," he said. "Now I believe it."

The two spoke shortly after they became teammates again.

"We were talking more about how it used to be in Green Bay," Franks said, "And how it would be a different adjustment for him, coming from a small town -- Green Bay to the city, New York. It's quite a change."

Franks won't have to make too many changes on the field this season. He knows exactly what to expect from his quarterback, and has warned his new teammates about Favre's arm strength and knack for improvising.

"It's just a matter of getting him comfortable with the offense, getting chemistry with the rest of the players," Franks said. "I've played with Brett for eight years, so it's not like our chemistry is going to change. It's a matter of him getting comfortable with the rest of the team. He's starting to get there, little by little."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.

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