Adjacent lockers, numbers (Nos. 3 and 4), both being rookies and similar jobs of specialist footwork would seem to lump Dolphins kicker Andrew Franks and punter Matt Darr together.
That is, until you look at their seasons.
Franks, who displaced Caleb Sturgis, desires a chance to establish his worth as an NFL kicker. Darr’s numbers do that for him, although he admits to hitting not so much the rookie wall but more the rookie school zone.
“Experiencing the long season first-hand is something you have to go through,” Darr said. “You can’t just hear about it and say you understand it until you’re actually in it.”
To explain to those who scoff at the idea that a punter gets physically tired after months of football the way an offensive or defensive position player does …
“If you watch what we do and the positions we put our bodies in when we kick, the torque on our body, it takes a toll over time because it’s the same repeated motion over and over,” Darr said.
“It’s not like you’re constantly being hit, making hits and banging your body that way. But you are taking a toll on your body a different way.”
And Darr works.
The Dolphins offense, the NFL’s version of Miami-Dade’s mass transit system, makes Darr the third-busiest punter in the league (70 punts).
Darr’s gross average of 47.6 yards ranks fifth, his 39.6 net average is 14th, and he’s put 22 punts inside the 20.
Meanwhile, that offense keeps Franks to almost weekly cameos.
Franks is just 8 for 10 on field-goal attempts this season and 26 of 29 on extra points.
“It’s been an interesting season, to say the least,” Franks said.
“I think I’ve been doing a fine job overall. There’s definitely areas I want to improve upon. I don’t think I’ve kicked a field goal in three weeks. That’s something that’s annoying. But it’s something that’s out of my control. It’s a cool experience; it’s new. I’m trying to embrace that as much as I can.”
No position is more fungible in team sports than NFL kicker, which Franks is aware of.
“I want to prove my worth,” he said. “I’m still a rookie. I’m still trying to keep my spot and show this team that I deserve to be here. It’s hard to do that when you’re kicking only one or two PATs a game and a couple of kickoffs a game. You want to get more of that facet shown.”
And Franks likes South Florida and Sun Life Stadium.
“Playing here is awesome,” he said.
“I went to school in upstate New York. I’m used to crap weather 24-7. Down here, having that extra warmth, especially late in the season, is nice.”
THIS AND THAT
▪ Wide receiver Jarvis Landry (knee) was limited in Friday’s practice. Center Mike Pouncey (foot) went through a limited practice Friday after being held out Thursday. Left tackle Branden Albert returned to practice after missing Thursday (not injury related). Linebacker Jelani Jenkins (ankle) returned to full practice after being limited Thursday.
Giants offensive tackle Ereck Flowers (ankle) went through a limited practice Friday after being held out Thursday.
▪ During a season in which the Dolphins fired coach Joe Philbin and everybody in the NFL seems confused about what constitutes a catch, the NFL has hired Philbin to help determine what’s a catch.
Philbin is now part of a six-person committee assigned with making recommendations to the NFL’s Competition Committee to help clear the definition of a reception. Also on the committee are former Colts and Bills general manager Bill Polian; former coaches Ken Whisenhunt and Jim Schwartz; former NFL official Tom Finken; and former NFL wide receiver James Thrash.