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Canadian Franklin looking forward to healthy 2016 season with Chargers

May 30, 2016 - 2:30 PM

TORONTO - The 2015 NFL season was a real pain for Orlando Franklin.

After starting 70-of-71 games (including playoffs) over four seasons with Denver, injuries forced the six-foot-seven, 316-pound guard to miss six contests in his first campaign with San Diego. The Chargers (4-12) endured numerous injuries and finished last in the AFC West.

On Nov. 1, San Diego had 12 players hurt in a 29-26 loss to Baltimore, one of eight defeats by seven or less points.

"Last year was crazy but that's football," Franklin said in an interview Monday. "I pride myself on being a durable player, period, in football and before last year I had played 20 seasons starting from the age of seven and missed just one game (in '13 with Denver).

"I really hope it was a one-year thing because I definitely can't take many more years like last year."

Franklin, 28, had high expectations for 2015 after signing a five-year, US$36.5-million deal with the Chargers as a free agent. The Jamaican-born Franklin, who grew up in Toronto, was Denver's 2011 second-round pick and immediately became a starter at tackle before shifting to guard.

Denver was the NFL's top-rushing team in Franklin's rookie season, then surrendered the fewest sacks in 2013 (20) and '14 (17). Franklin allowed just 3.5 sacks in 2012 —the fewest among right tackles who started all 16 games — and just one in 2014.

He also played in Denver's 43-8 Super Bowl loss to Seattle on Feb, 2, 2014. Given the Chargers' injury woes, Franklin has a modest goal for 2016.

"I want to stay healthy so I can help my team," he said. "I know when I'm healthy and on the field, I give my team a better opportunity to win because I definitely feel I'm still a very productive player in this league."

Adding insult to injury, Denver won last year's Super Bowl, anchored by the NFL's top defence. The championship run was veteran quarterback Peyton Manning's NFL swan song as he retired shortly afterwards.

"He definitely deserved it," Franklin said. "He's done a lot for the NFL and was the face of the league for a long time so I'm definitely happy he was able to go out on his terms.

"I know how hard it is to get to a Super Bowl so you can't help but be happy for those guys (Broncos)."

Franklin said he'll forever remember Manning for his preparedness.

"You had to be on top of your game because it didn't matter if something wasn't in the gameplan for that week, if it was in the playbook it was always in the gameplan," Franklin said. "You had to take care of business each and every week."

Although Denver is the defending NFL champion, Franklin believes the AFC West will be wide open this season.

"You don't have a guy like Peyton Manning in the division anymore and it's definitely going to be a little different," he said. "I also think Denver's defence will drop off a little bit.

"I think Oakland's doing some pretty good things with the additions they've made the past two years and Kansas City brings a lot of toughness with their defensive play. I think even with how last year went we're right there. We've got to be able to finish games and go in with the attitude that we're going to take care of business and not be denied."

On July 20, nine days before San Diego opens training camp, Franklin will hold a football camp in Toronto for players between eight and 16. Franklin said Chargers teammates Travis Benjamin and Corey Liuget will be among the coaches.

"We're basically going to let them know this (pro career) is something they too can dream about and achieve through hard work and dedication," Franklin said. "We're going to go through drills and coach these kids up and then share our stories."

Franklin has quite a story to tell. He was three years old when he, his brother and mother arrived in Canada from Kingston, Jamaica.

Franklin ran into trouble with the law as a youth, twice being arrested. That led to an emotional discussion between mother and son. Franklin promised to change his ways, but his mother made him put it in writing.

Franklin also asked his mother if they could move to football-crazy Florida so he'd have a better chance to succeed. They relocated to Delray Beach, and Franklin ultimately landed a scholarship at Miami before being drafted by Denver.

"I have a very unique background and definitely think football played a role in keeping me out of a lot of trouble," he said. "I think it's important to share that story."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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