Countdown to Training Camp: Day 3 — Running backs

tlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner (33) heads for a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Monday, Nov. 2, 2009. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)

tlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner (33) heads for a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Monday, Nov. 2, 2009. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)

Birdland – The players are due to report for training camp on Thursday. The first practice is slated for Friday.

Over the last two weeks, we’ve been taking a quick look at a position group in the  “COUNTDOWN TO TRAINING CAMP 2010.”

We’ve already looked at the defensive line, linebackers, cornerbacks, safeties, offensive line, tight ends and wide receivers.

The running backs are up today.

THE REALLY BIG QUESTION: Can a slimmed down Michael Turner turn in another mega-season while carrying a lighter load?

Over the offseason, the Falcons finally attributed Michael Turner’s slow start in 2009 to him being out of shape.

He’d rounded  into shape and appeared  primed for another mega-season when he suffered what was essentially a season-ending high right ankle sprain against Carolina in the ninth game of the season.

He was rushed back two weeks later against a lowly Tampa Bay team for no apparent reason and went

How many yards will Michael Turner rush for in 2010?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...
out again. He tried to play against the New York Jets, but took what appeared to be a targeted hit from safety Jimmy Leonhard on the first play of the game and was out for the remainder of the season.

Turner, determined to prove that the 1,700-yard season in 2008 was not a fluke, has basically lived at the team facilities this offseason. If he does get off to a slow start, fitness will not be the issue.

The team also retained running backs Jerious Norwood and Jason Snelling.

The coaches  plan to spread some of Turner’s carries around.

At fullback, Ovie Mughelli is backed up by Dan Klecko.

FIVE GOALS FOR THE RUNNING BACKS

Running back Jerious Norwood recently told the Jackson Clarion Ledger that he's healthy and ready to roll in 2010. (Curtis Compton/Ccompton@ajc.com)

Running back Jerious Norwood recently told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger that he's healthy and ready to roll in 2010. (Curtis Compton/Ccompton@ajc.com)

  1. TAKE  more real estate in short yardage situations.
  2. Continue to run the ball well late in the game with a lead.
  3. Do a better job of setting up the blocks on screen plays.
  4. Become more effective when operating in the Dirty Bird (Wildcat) attack.
  5. Continue to block well while picking up the blitz.

Here’s a look at the running backs:

Michael Turner: There won’t be a more determined running back in the league this season.

Jerious Norwood: He has pronounced himself fit and ready to roll this season. He’s been injured in three of his four seasons in the NFL.

Jason Snelling: Ran for a career-high 147 yards in the season finale against Tampa Bay.

Antone Smith: The former Florida State Seminole was signed to the practice squad last October.

Dimitri Nance: Could be a diamond in the rough after an injury-marred senior season at Arizona State.

Ovie Mughelli: Back to help power the run game with his lead blocking.

Dan Klecko: He has earned three Super Bowl rings in backup roles with New England and Indianapolis.

Date, Practice Times (public availability)

Friday, July 30 — Practice 8:30 – 10:10 a.m. (open to the public); practice 3:45 – 5:25 p.m. (open to the public).

Saturday, July 31 — Practice 8:30 – 10:10 a.m. (open to the public); practice 3:45 – 5:50 p.m. (open to the public).

Sunday, August 1 — Practice 9:35 – 10:30 a.m. (open to the public); practice 3:45 – 5:55 p.m. (open to the public).

Monday, August 2 — Practice 8:30 – 10:40 a.m. (open to the public); practice 3:45 – 5:25 p.m. (closed to the public).

Tuesday, August 3 — Practice 8:30 – 10:40 a.m. (open to the public); practice 3:45 – 4:40 p.m. (closed to the public).

Wednesday, August 4 — Practice 1:30 – 3:40 p.m. (open to the public).

Thursday, August 5 — Practice 8:30 – 10:40 a.m. (open to the public); practice 3:45 – 5:25 p.m. (closed to the public).

Friday, August 6 — Practice 10:15 – 11:55 a.m. (open to the public)

Falcons Allstate All-Access “Friday Night Lights”

Team Scrimmage at North Gwinnett High School – 7:30 p.m. (open to the public)

Saturday, August 7 — Mock Game at Flowery Branch – 12:00 p.m. (open to the public)

Sunday, August 8 — No Practice.

Monday, August 9 — Practice 8:30 – 10:40 a.m. (open to the public); practice 3:45 – 4:40 p.m. (open to the public). COMBINED PRACTICES WITH JACKSONVILLE.

Tuesday, August 10 — Practice 8:30 – 10:40 a.m. (open to the public); practice 3:45 – 5:50 p.m. (open to the public). COMBINED PRACTICES WITH JACKSONVILLE.

Wednesday, August 11 — Practice 8:30 – 10:40 a.m. (closed to the public); practice 3:45 – 4:40 p.m. (closed to the public).

Thursday, August 12 — Practice 8:50 – 10:55 a.m. (closed to the public); practice 5:15 – 6:15 p.m. (closed to the public).

Friday, August 13 — Preseason Week 1 vs. Kansas City 8 p.m.

Saturday, August 14 –No Practice.

Sunday, August 15 — Practice 9:30 – 11:35 a.m. (open to the public); practice 3:45 – 5:25 p.m. (open to the public).

Monday, August 16 — Practice 8:30 – 10:40 a.m. (closed to the public); practice 3:45 – 4:40 p.m. (closed to the public).

Tuesday, August 17 — Practice 8:30 – 10:55 a.m. (open to the public); practice 3:45 – 5:35 p.m. (open to the public). COMBINED PRACTICES WITH NEW ENGLAND.

Wednesday, August 18 — Practice 10:15 – 11:35 a.m. (closed to public).

Thursday, August 19 — Preseason Week 2 vs. New England 8 p.m.

Friday, August 20 — No Practice.

Saturday, August 21 — 9:30 a.m. – 11:35 a.m. (closed to the public); 3:45 p.m. – 5:25 p.m. (closed to the public).

Sunday, August 22 — 9:35 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. (closed to the public)

Get instant updates on Twitter at AJCFalcons and you can join the Facebook Fan page at AJC Falcons.

123 comments Add your comment

SeenThisB4

July 27th, 2010
7:09 am

This is the biggest group of underachievers on the falcant team, by far. Talk about failure!

SeenThisB4

July 27th, 2010
7:10 am

First and second

SeenThisB4

July 27th, 2010
7:11 am

Recking: 10 minutes.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by D. Orlando Ledbetter, D. Orlando Ledbetter. D. Orlando Ledbetter said: COUNTDOWN TO TRAINING CAMP: Running backs — is the BURNER TURNER ready for another mega-season? http://bit.ly/9y3T0S [...]

rekingball

July 27th, 2010
7:53 am

Nine minutes to stink up the blog.

i saw brent grimes

July 27th, 2010
7:54 am

b4 – what exactly is it that you’ve ’seen b4′? is it how you don’t have any friends and watch games on your 13 inch rabbit ears tv? if so, we all have seen that b4 for guys like you…

as for the rb’s – turner will be a monster this year. i’m primarily worried about norwood. he’s the fastest i’ve ever seen on field…. sideline to sideline. i don’t think he can get out of his own way. every time, seemingly, he tries to turn upfield, he trips over his own feet. but it’s nice to know we have a bruiser in snelling. if we have to, we can just pound the ball all the way down the field with turner/snelling ala’ redskins in the 80’s.

rekingball

July 27th, 2010
7:57 am

I don’t remember the Falcons running very many screen plays last year.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ATLHOMER, D. Orlando Ledbetter. D. Orlando Ledbetter said: Countdown to Training Camp: DAY 3 — Running backs http://bit.ly/9hMsGp [...]

i saw brent grimes

July 27th, 2010
8:01 am

they didn’t. but their 2 main screen guys were out most of the year (douglas and norwood). we got both those guys back this year, so i’m sure that will be a new wrinkle we can use.

rekingball

July 27th, 2010
8:05 am

I believe that one of the main reasons Turner had a slow start, is that the Falcons first 5 or 6 opponents, utilized the 3-4 defense.
Which according to the talking heads on the TV, is used to prevent the run. According to your article concerning the OLine, the Falcons are working on establishing the running game against the 3-4.
I think that they will succeed.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 27th, 2010
8:06 am

rekingball — Norwood is the screen guy and he was hurt. Snelling is a good screen guy too. But they do run them, he gets in front of his blocking. Have to let the big uglies get set-up. (Now, I see where “I saw brent grimes” made this point, too.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 27th, 2010
8:07 am

ANY QUESTIONS out there for COACH SMITH. He’s about to call any second . He’s going to help us preview camp for us.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 27th, 2010
8:10 am

rekingball — 3-4 was definitely a reason for the slow start, too.

rekingball

July 27th, 2010
8:12 am

Also, I think that if the OLine can keep the pass rush off of Ryan just a little bit longer than last year, that will give the Falcon receivers a better chance to get open down field. Completeing more long passes down field will get the opposing defense back on their heals a little bit, and open up some holes at the line, for the RBs to run through.

BKJ

July 27th, 2010
8:13 am

DOL – Ask Coach about where Jamaal Anderson will be spending most of his time during TC (DT or DE)?

BKJ

July 27th, 2010
8:15 am

Another Q — Any undrafted free agents that Coach is really interested in watching in TC based on OTAs?

BKJ

July 27th, 2010
8:15 am

Another Q — Does coach know when the first “full pad” practice will be?

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 27th, 2010
8:16 am

BJK — GOT both of your questions down.

BKJ

July 27th, 2010
8:17 am

Another Q – Status of Weatherspoon negotiations?

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 27th, 2010
8:18 am

BKJ — Will get that padded practice one in. I know there are only nine padded practices.

BKJ

July 27th, 2010
8:18 am

DOL – Thanks. I’ll stop now. Look forward to your blog/article.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

July 27th, 2010
8:20 am

rekingball — Paul Boudreau and Paul Dunn will have the Oline together. Wish you see them go to work at practice. They are awesome coaches.

rainman

July 27th, 2010
8:23 am

A couple of questions for Smitty:
- are they going to use HD on punt returns or Norwood on kickoff returns?
- does he thing our field goal kicker is good enough, or is this position still under evaluation.
- when is Brian Williams projected to be on the field?

O G Falcon Fan

July 27th, 2010
8:23 am

How about we get somebody to fix Norwoods legs. He is about the most bowlegged guy i have ever seen.
Really if he would just run a little bit under control he will be fine.

Bird Dog

July 27th, 2010
8:27 am

What has Turner done differently to prepare for this season? P90x?

rekingball

July 27th, 2010
8:34 am

I am very glad to hear about the OLine’s progress.
Last year, most of them played hurt(due in part, to the NFL scheduling bye-week situation the Falcons faced, in my opinion).

I think that the OLine is the foundation for this team’s success.
I believe that the Falcons will be very successful in 2010.

Joe Tess Fish House

July 27th, 2010
8:44 am

Ask Smitty what do they have against going to the Superbowl because if they don’t sign TO, they are NOT going.

Thanks.

SeenThisB4

July 27th, 2010
8:48 am

DOL: Turner’s 1700 yds were in 2008, not 2009.

Individually, the falcant running backs are talented but quite prone to injury.

Their shortcoming is their contribution as a group. They don’t compliment each other very well. When one goes down, the others don’t pick up the slack. And the anemic passing attack doesn’t help them. Get some balance, and the offense will be more effective. Which speaks to the coaching more than the players.

rekingball

July 27th, 2010
8:58 am

You wrote that that the Jets put a targeted hit on Turner’s ankle, in his attempted return in that game.
I think that the Panthers placed a targeted hit on Turner’s ankle, in the game in which he was first injured.
If I remember correctly, Turner had over 140yds rushing against them, early in the 2nd quarter when the incident occurred. That appeared to be the only way that they could stop him.

Hamp

July 27th, 2010
9:00 am

Seenthisb4 your last post was decent. For you to the hate the falcons so much you sure know alot about them. Are you a undercover falcon backer that just wants us to think you don’t care.

JTH

July 27th, 2010
9:11 am

Turner became a victim of his own success last season. He felt like he had “made it” as a football player and got complacent. That led to laziness, that led to fat.

It’s good to see him get the fire in the belly back. This is the year of the Falcon.

SeenThisB4

July 27th, 2010
9:20 am

Hamp: Everyone should know their opponents.

Ken Strickland

July 27th, 2010
9:28 am

OG FALCON FAN-You obviously never saw former Falcon DE Claude Humphery, or OLB Henri Crockett.

Zone4FalcFan

July 27th, 2010
9:28 am

B4-I wouldn’t call our RBs injury prone. Norwood is the only one tipping that scale and IMO he isn’t worse than what Abe used to be like. Snelling is never hurt and Turner had his first injury this year. Sorry so injury prone doesn’t work for this group. I think this past season will be the worse season the Falcons have in a long time. Injuries resulted in an “anemic” passing attack that still put up 23 poitns and 300+ yds against the Saints and poor play calling hurt as well. But I think since Ryan will get Turner, Douglas, Norwood back healthy and Meier as well roaming the middle, he will have a tremendous number of options to work with.

But surprisingly that was a good non-Falcons bashing post. Congrats

The excitement builds…

CaliDirtyBird

July 27th, 2010
9:36 am

I agree not many screen plays last year. What about draw plays?

truth

July 27th, 2010
9:42 am

Seen…you pathitic man. What did you do stay up all night to be first on the Falcons blog? Why not admit you are a Falcon fan in hiding just trying to pi$$ people off. Just sad. You have no pride in yourself.

truth

July 27th, 2010
9:49 am

I happen to think Snelling picked up the slack very well.

smittty

July 27th, 2010
9:56 am

in short yardage situations every now and then I sure would like to see 2 TE(check in a tackle) and 2 fb(mughelli and klecko) and turner…old school here we come try to stop us…we will get the yard

SeenThisB4

July 27th, 2010
10:01 am

truth: What? You think 7 am is early? LOL! and don’t forget, your 7AM is my 6AM. First of all, I don’t need a lot of sleep and second, I am no falcant fan. And I told you Sunday, I want to hear what you guys think of your team PLUS I want to aggravate you all to the point that you’re crying like babies. You know, like you’re doing! LOL!

And if Snelling picked up the slack very well, then why is Ledbetter’s #1 recommendation: TAKE more real estate in short yardage situations?

Matt R

July 27th, 2010
11:05 am

Hey D-led, the most glaring reason the flacons didn’t make the playoffs last year was not the D-line or CB’s, It was the field goal kicker!!! Did we aquire any new kickers this year?

FalconsFan284

July 27th, 2010
11:40 am

Seen—You must explain how the Falcons tailbacks don’t compliment one another. The way I see it, and ESPN and NFL.com and many, many more see it, the Falcons have some of the most versatile, complimentary groups in the NFL. Let me explain it in terms you will understand.
Micheal Turner = Pierre Thomas. Yes Micheal is faster, doesn’t fumble as often and scores more touchdowns but it is the only comparison that will make sense to you. Just compare their respective stat lines and, I think, it will explain just how big a difference there is in the quality of Turner over Thomas. In what was essentially eight games, due to injury in parts of three others, Micheal Turner turned in 178 carries for 871 yards and 10 touchdowns! Even though he had a slow start, Turner had a better rushing season then all of the Saints backs. Evidence for this lies in Pierre Thomas’ numbers which are, 147 rushes for 793 yards and 6 touchdowns. The one area Thomas does soundly defeat Turner is in receptions and yards. However, these teams have two decidedly different styles of offense.
Jerious Norwood = Reggie Bush. I do give this matchup advantage to New Orleans. Reggie Bush is a terror out of the backfield when he catches the ball. Though Bush only had 70 rushes last year, he was very effective when given the opportunity. Now, I give the advantage to Bush but with a caveat. That being Jerious Norwood is not as durable as Reggie. When it comes to speed the advantage leans to Norwood. When it comes to running between the tackles the advantage stays with Norwood. When it comes to turning the corner or gaining the edge there is no advantage; I think Bush and Norwood are equal to one another. When it comes to receiving I give a clear advantage to Bush. I’ll stick with Reggie on field vision as well. Reggie is also much more durable. However, when it comes to value, Jerious Norwood is leaps and bounds ahead of Reggie Bush! Reggie Bush was the number 2 overall pick in the draft; which is not good value for your second string tailback. Jerious Norwood, on the other hand, was a late third round pick and is now just a third down, third string back. With Norwood’s speed to offset the power of Micheal Turner they form a potent combination.
Ovie Mughelli = Heath Evans. This is so not a fair comparison. Ovie is clearly the better fullback! When it comes to lead blocking, advantage Ovie. When it comes to short yardage, advantage Ovie. When it comes to blitz protection, advantage Ovie. When it comes to durability, advantage Ovie. Heath Evans could probably defeat Ovie in a foot race though but I’m not even sure of that.
Jason Snelling = ?. There is no longer a player on the Saints roster that can do the things for them that Jason Snelling does for the Atlanta Falcons. Micheal Bell was probably the closest but he is no longer in New Orleans. Snelling is our second string runningback that provides the versatility to play in singleback, H-back, fullback and I-form offensive sets. Again, he is another perfect compliment to Micheal Turner. I say that because both Turner and Snelling can be on the field at the same time and add a double power run threat.
We can discuss different formations, and which team has the advantage in each, but I honestly believe that you just aren’t capable of breaking things down the way I have. I know you will come back with, “Explain why the Saints rushing offense was ranked higher than Altalnta’s last season” or some garbage of that ilk. The answer is, Atlanta did not have Turner for the second half of the season. It is the simple. Take Thomas away from New Orleans and the Saints have little to no running game. Take Turner out of Atlanta and the Falcons still have Snelling that came in and got 613 yards. I will remind you that we have all seen what the Saints have looked like with Reggie as the starter. Can you say one dimensional?

truth

July 27th, 2010
11:41 am

Enter your comments here

truth

July 27th, 2010
11:45 am

Be ready 284, SeenThisLoserB4 is gonna spin an you.

truth

July 27th, 2010
11:46 am

Opps “on you” gotta what out for PROF

truth

July 27th, 2010
11:47 am

DANG “watch out” for PROF

FalconsFan284

July 27th, 2010
11:55 am

Truth—-He tries every time I post but he ends up proving my arguments, the vast majority of the time. The whole reason I posted this was because he said our backs don’t compliment one another. Which just doesn’t make sense.

robertussen

July 27th, 2010
12:05 pm

d led, dan kleco is listed as a d lineman by the falcons. do you think his versatility earns him a spot on the 53 man roster.

Ken Strickland

July 27th, 2010
12:21 pm

This has become a daily habit. We get these vagrant AINT fans who wake up every morning and log onto the Falcon blog to have fun making fools of themselves. What else can you call someone dumb enough to criticize certain aspects of the Falcons when their beloved AINTS are in far worse shape than we are.

Here’s a sample of that stupidity. Making an issue of the Falcon RB’s, particularly MTurner, who in 08 out gained the AINTS entire rushing OFF(MTurner-1699, AINTS-1594).

Even after playing hurt and being unable to finish the season in 09, MTurner(871yds-10TD’s) managed to out gain and out score the AINTS leading rusher, PThomas(793yds-6TD’s). Even our #3 backup(JSnelling)gained 613yds and scored 4TD’s last yr, which is only 180 fewer yds than their #1 rusher.

I guess they’re very comfortable hiding behind a computer and making stupid remarks. AFTER ALL, THEY OBVIOUSLY DEVELOPED THE HABIT FROM HIDING UNDER BAGS, AFTER 25 CONSECUTIVE YRS OF UTTER FUTILITY AND EMBARRASSMENT.

SeenThisB4

July 27th, 2010
12:48 pm

Falconsfan284: Ever heard of the term: “cacoethes scribendi”?

Interesting, that you’re hanging your hat on the versatility of Snelling, so many sets! LOL! It’s not the number of sets, it’s the execution from those sets that counts.

When Mr. Turner, turned in that 1699 yard performance for 2008, he distinguished himself as an elite runner. Anybody else in that group over there do that? Ever?

Answer: No.

Result: When Mr. Turner started slow last year, and then had ankle injuries, the falcant run oriented offense ended up 15th in the league of 32. Just slightly above average.

Last year, the Saint PASS oriented offense ended up 6th in rushing, top 20%. Odd that you all continue to dismiss that little golden tidbit.

The Saints don’t possess that elite, bowling ball type runner like the falcants do in Turner, but their running corp did compliment each other very well. When one went down, the next guy picked up the slack and they just kept rolling along. They don’t have the same style of running, but they know how to pick up each other’s slack. At least in my opinion they do. And yes, they did lose Mike Bell, but the reality of it is, that Mike Bell and Lynell Hamilton were basically numbers 3a, and 3b. That complimentary running corp will still be a formidable one to stop this year, as they were last year.

And let me give you a bit of advice: If you want to stop the Saints offense, stop their run offense first, but watch out for that pass offense, cause it will burn you if you don’t.

Go ahead FalconsFan284, keep thinking your run offense is superior.

FalconsFan284

July 27th, 2010
12:56 pm

Ken—–the Saints fans, hiram and SEEN, have both said it themselves. They only come here to try to aggravate Falcon fans. They don’t come to add to the discussion or share their ideas about why the Saints are better prepared for the season. No, they just come to call names (hiram) and type non-factual, outrageous things (SEEN). Honeslty, when did you ever see them make a pervasive argument about football?