Yes, in one way it most definitely was unique as he ended up attempting fewer field goals than any Dolphins kicker who ever played a full 16-game season.
But just making the team as an undrafted free agent was an accomplishment for the former Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute kicker, and what followed were a series of valuable lessons as the season unfolded.
“I’d say there’s probably 10 or 20 (things that stood out),” Franks said in an interview with The Finsiders. “It was a big leap for me, but as a whole just sort of learning how to be a professional here, learning from some of the top guys right before the season started and during the season, it’s been huge for me just trying to take what their years of experience and trying to learn that as fast as I can has been an interesting turn of events for me. But it’s been good overall.”
Franks ended up making 13 of 16 field goal attempts in 2015, breaking the previous low mark for a 16-game kicker of 21 recorded by Olindo Mare in 2001.
Incredibly, Franks attempted only one field goal during a five-game stretch late in the season.
“We had four field goal attempts in the first two games and then we sort of just sputtered out a little bit,” Franks said. “Right off the bat, I expected to kick a lot more than we did. For me, it’s just a matter of being ready at any time. I could kick one kick all game or I could kick six or seven. For me, it didn’t really matter. I was getting the mental reps on the sideline in my warmups and everything. As a whole, I wish we did kick some more, but if we’re scoring touchdowns, we’re scoring touchdowns.”
More impressively, Franks finished tied for eighth in the NFL with a touchback percentage on kickoffs of 66.7 percent — the previous high for a Dolphins kicker since the kickoff was moved to the 35-yard line in 2011 was 57.4 by Dan Carpenter that season.
Franks also ended up 33-for-36 on extra points in the NFL’s first year with the PAT coming with the ball snapped from the 15-yard line.
That was but one of the many adjustments Franks had to make in 2015, along with going from college to the pros as well as going from playing in front of small crowds (around 1,000) at RPI to packed NFL stadiums.
Asked about the toughest adjustments, Franks said: “It’s obviously a much longer season than college, so trying to keep the body in tune with that but also figuring out how to interact with fans, how to really compose myself and stay focused throughout the season. It’s easy to sort of just get disenchanted halfway through the season. Trying to break through that rookie wall, so to speak, was really a big step for me.”
The next step for Franks will be building on what he did as a rookie.
His plans for the offseason included visiting family and friends before returning to South Florida to enjoy the offseason and get ready for the offseason program.
“I think everything can be improved on,” Franks said. “You can always kick a ball farther, kick it higher, get your steps down better. For me, it’s really going to be just about consistency in all three phases — PATs, field goals and kickoffs especially. I really want to fine-tune everything that I’ve worked hard to improve this season.”