FLOWERY BRANCH, GA —Dunta Robinson might want to do a better job of looking over his shoulder. Chances are, any time he turns around, Dominique Franks is going to be there.
Since being drafted in the fifth round by the Falcons, Franks — the rookie cornerback out of Oklahoma — has been Robinson's shadow. Where Robinson goes, Franks goes. Thing is, Robinson might not even be aware of it.
"He doesn't know yet. I might be walking behind him and I might turn around and be like, 'What time is it? Oh, Dunta! How you doing, man?,' Franks said as he demonstrated how he plans to play it cool if he gets caught. "Just a little something like that."
Franks is trying to soak up as much knowledge as he can from the highly touted veteran. With Franks deep in a heated battle for the starting cornerback position opposite Robinson, Franks is trying to do all he can to gain an edge over Brent Grimes, Christopher Owens and Brian Williams.
Franks came into training camp with the full intention on being in the thick of the cornerback position battle, and he has been since Day 1. The rookie has gotten his hands on more than his fair share of passes during camp, pulling in interceptions and creating a lot of frustrating incompletions for the offense.
"When you get to this level, the best players gotta play," Franks said. "When somebody knows that their job is not sewn up, it makes them just come out here and work even harder. I think it's good that it's open competition. It just makes the starter work even harder because he doesn't want the second guy to get his reps."
Franks is hoping he still has a chance to be that starter named at the end of the preseason. But no matter what happens, he's likely going to continue being Robinson's shadow — following him around everywhere he goes.
"Right now, it's really hard for me to ask him questions because we're practicing against our own offense, but when the season hits, I can really sit down and watch film with him and see how he studies certain receivers, how he studies cornerbacks, releases and stances," Franks said. "It's just little things like that he'll really be able to help my game go even further."
Staying under control: During offensive and defensive team drills Monday, the Falcons and Jaguars did all they could to keep things from getting out of hand when it came to hitting. If a player was taken down, coaches would be yelling to keep them on their feet. It was a point that was gone over ad nauseum.
For the running backs, it was especially important. During running drills, defensive players would work on having a good angle of pursuit, get to the point of contact and then give a light thud to signify a tackle of either Falcons running back Devonta Freeman or Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew.
For some, it's a tough thing to master.
"There's a technique to it," Turner said. "You've just got to have a feel for it. You know a guy is going to thud you up, and as a running back, you always want to protect yourself and expect the big hit. You get used to it and get into the rhythm of things."