Atlanta Falcons: Turner still a weapon in passing league

 

Falcons running back Michael Turner emerges from the smoke and fire to take on the Ravens in Atlanta. Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons running back Michael Turner emerges from the smoke and fire to take on the Ravens in Atlanta. Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com

Vivlamore reporting from Flowery Branch.

The Falcons have stockpiled an arsenal of aerial weapons. Quarterback Matt Ryan has the likes of Tony Gonzalez, Roddy White, Julio Jones and Harry Douglas at his disposal. He has made good use of them after two exhibition games throwing for 329 yards, fifth best in the NFL’s preseason, and two touchdowns in limited action.

But don’t forget about Michael Turner.

Although the running back has just 14 yards on eight carries in exhibition games against the Ravens and Bengals, Turner and coaches insist there is no reason to panic. Relax. It’s the preseason, they said.

“It’s just a matter of getting reps,” Turner said Tuesday. “It’s just a glorified practice. You just want to get out there, get the looks and make the corrections from the game tape like you do for any other practice. You still want to look sharp and crisp out there and hopefully we’ll clean all that up this week.”

The Falcons play the Dolphins Friday. They rushed 21 times for 71 yards against the Ravens and 18 times for 81 yards against the Bengals, including Turner’s three carries for minus-3 yards. Turner’s numbers are down from previous preseasons:

*2008: 18 carries for 169 yards in four games

*2009: 27 carries for 187 yards in four games

*2010: 28 carries for 108 yards in three games

*2011: 18 carries for 54 yards in three games

“To be honest, I never worry about the running game in preseason,” new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said. “I just don’t see why you want to plow it up in there and get your backs beat up. We know that Michael Turner can run the football.”

The Falcons plan to cut the 30-year-old Turner’s carries this season. He had over 300 attempts in three of his four seasons in Atlanta and was in the top three in the league for rushing attempts each year. The lone exception was 2009 when he was limited to 178 carries in 11 games due to injury. He has been productive each season, rushing for 1,699 yards (2008), 871 yards (2009), 1,371 yards (2010) and 1,340 yards (2011).

Turner is making the adjustment with the NFL becoming a passing league. Gone are the days in San Diego when, as LaDainian Tomlinson’s backup, he watched the Chargers extensively run the ball with young quarterback Philip Rivers. Gone also are his early days in Atlanta when he carried much of the load while Ryan learned the game.

“You know you are not going to get it five or six times in a row and just pound it all the way down the field,” Turner said. “It’s kind of an adjustment because we are getting used to having these established weapons. Is it run first? Is it pass first? Really it’s score first. That’s what it is. Start fast and control the tempo. We are fortunate enough to be able to run it or pass it.”

Turner will share some of the rushing attack with Jacquizz Rodgers, entering his second season and first with a true offseason. Turner said Rodgers is getting more comfortable in the offense and there will be times when either he or the coaches will call for the switch to the much smaller change-of-pace back.

One personnel issue the Falcons are currently dealing with in the running game is at fullback. Pro Bowler Ovie Mughelli was released in salary cap move that saved the team $3 million in May. Fifth-round draft pick Bradie Ewing was lost for the season with a knee injury suffered in the exhibition opener. That leaves Mike Cox and newly signed Lousaka Polite primarily competing to block for Turner. Through the first two exhibition games there have been good and bad moments for the fullbacks.

Turner said the importance of the fullback can’t be underestimated. He has run behind Pro Bowlers Lorenzo Neal and Mughelli during his career. Mughelli missed the final 10 games, including the playoffs, with a torn ACL last season.

Part of the exhibition season work is to also develop an on-field chemistry.

“When you are a fullback you can dip into certain holes and dip out and know exactly where I’m going to be,” Turner said. “We just have to get that down pat. If the coaches want to go to a two-back set, we have to be sharp and on the same page.”

- Chris Vivlamore

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Running back Michael Turner still a weapon

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Falcons finally get fiesty in practice; a couple of fights breakout

Akeem Dent returns to practice; will play against Miami

OTHER NEWS

Dominique Davis in hunt for No. 2 quarterback position

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Asante Samuel admits to relaxing on A.J. Green’s touchdown catch

A.J. Green and Julio Jones shine in exhibition game

VIDEO: Matt Ryan, Lousaka Polite featured after loss to Bengals

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39 comments Add your comment

Boris Johnson

August 21st, 2012
5:51 pm

Michael M.

August 21st, 2012
6:18 pm

Come on Michael, quit eatin those hamburgers and give us another one of these…………..1,699 yards (2008)…………………………………….

Stepchild

August 21st, 2012
6:43 pm

Ok….if you say so…..but the tip toe burglar ain’t looking too hot to me.

JONESBORO SLIM

August 21st, 2012
7:21 pm

The “tip toe burglar” thats RB Brandon Jacobs now with San Francisco….but Turner aquired those yards in 2008 when the team had a very soft schedule….

[...] to Original Content From Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog): read more Related Articles Share About Author [...]

Esquire

August 21st, 2012
9:56 pm

Trollology 101
Attempt to ignore that you’re wass has been reamed, pretend nothing has happened even though anti-troll has given you butt whuppin[’ of which you won’t recover without wince.

Seen This B4

August 21st, 2012
1:03 pm

@Esqueer: What’s a matter? Still mad you lost your backup LT Will Svitek for the season, at practice?!!

Seen……amateurish even for you……tisch tisch tisch limp glove slap to the face.

BLEAUX SAINTS!!!

T h e Burner Turner

August 21st, 2012
11:05 pm

I still viable

tonight I had my favorite triple cheeseburgers and five milkshakes.

These ankle weights are showing me heavy.

I took them off and I feel like 260 lbs

The lightest I have felt in years.

thejama

August 21st, 2012
11:59 pm

Curtis Lofton has the dreaded “high ankle sprain.” Thats the type of injury that lingers the whole season….as he continues to reinjure it again and again…Trouble for the Taints

falCANS

August 22nd, 2012
12:48 am

Loftons injured?? Lol great news!!!

Wings

August 22nd, 2012
6:49 am

Turner needs to gain yards without all of those reps!!!!! Every time he looses a yard or carries the ball the key part of the offense which is the passing game is not used. The Falcons cannot win against the better teams while wasting half the offensive plays on a used up RB .

observer

August 22nd, 2012
8:45 am

Turner…slowest starting running back in the NFL..makes the offensive line look bad. They can open ahole but the RB has to be there to run through it. By the time he gets there the hole is gone and he just falls down at the line.

[...] Running back Michael Turner still a weapon [...]

Mikey

August 22nd, 2012
8:51 am

As I look around the league, M. Turner is looking like one of the best running backs in action. The only thing that will prevent him from leading the league at running back again this year is that his carries may be diminished in the interest of a more deceptive offense. I expect to see great running back play when he gets the rock and I doubt I will be disappointed. I’ll bet if you put a flack jacket on a couch potato, he would look overweight too. His thighs are the real deal though. I suspect many a defensive back see those thighs in their nightmares… GO FALCONS!

David

August 22nd, 2012
9:05 am

You talk about Turner’s yards, Look at his yards per carrie, NOT THAT GREAT !

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 22nd, 2012
9:14 am

Michael M. — Turner has had over 1,450 (total yards) in 3 of his 4 seasons. I don’t understand why some of y’all rip him so. Take the 1,450 and work on the rest of the offense. Even if the 1,450 goes down to 1,250, that’s getting it done. Do we need to start a “Show the Burner some Love” campaign?

PMC

August 22nd, 2012
9:31 am

I’m pretty excited to see what Turner can do this year actually without the other team completly keying completely on him.

I think Turner is going to be a beast in the 3rd and 4th quarters if this team can ever estabilish leads. Spreading out the field and giving Turner some space to get rolling is what he’s always needed more of. He’s one of the best in the league at breaking tackles, because he has to be, I’d rather those tackles be 10 yards down field rather than 3 yards in the backfield.

[...] Running back Michael Turner still a weapon [...]

Michael M.

August 22nd, 2012
11:17 am

You are right D-led………………..anything over 1000 yards in a season is a great running back…………I just remember the 4th and inches…………………

Die Hard Falcon

August 22nd, 2012
11:20 am

Look, I am excited as anybody about the possibility of an aerial attack, but once we get leads, Turner will be an asset to have to burn the clock and to wear down defenses, like DLed said, his #’s don’t lie, he accounts for a big portion of our offense and has had success.

I believe that we’re switching to a pass first offense and that once we get leads, we’ll use him to finish off teams, I stand behind our workhorse, of course I wouldn’t be offended if we traded him for MJD since he doesn’t want to play for Mularkey/Khan in Jags, I know it’s a long shot, but if he won’t play for them, we trade Mularkey’s favorite piece and a draft pick in a middle round, it’d be worth it.

Go Falcons!

[...] Running back Michael Turner still a weapon [...]

teamguy

August 22nd, 2012
11:43 am

I’m with you, D’Led. . .give him the ball and let him do what he does. . .how can you hate on a guy that has done so much to help this team succeed? There are not many teams NFL who wouldn’t give up a great deal to have a superior running back like Michael Turner. He doesn’t gripe and complain, just shows up and runs over people. . .that’s what a good back should do, right?

Dirty Bird 3

August 22nd, 2012
12:28 pm

I would like to see Turner do some part time work at fullback w/Rodgers at Tail. I believe the offense has many options with that personel group. If Turner is the team player I suspect he is he should not mind using his girth to secure the fullback position while at the same time giving Matt Ryan some opportunities in the no huddle.

SirReal

August 22nd, 2012
12:41 pm

Ok, I’ve evaluated Turner early on in the preseason and didnt really like what I saw….HOWEVER….guys let’s not get carried away here. Turner is still a VERY effective back that will wear a defense down and I guarantee you there are many defenders out there who still dont want to see him running at them at full speed. Sure he can hit the holes with a bit more conviction but a lot has to do with the line and you cant replace a guy like Mughelli overnight. He’s still a 1000 yard rusher people. I just hate that the NFL and fans alike are pretty much “what have you done for me lately?” Well last I checked he ran for 1300 yards last year and has gone over 1000 each year he’s been here. He’s a beast on the goal line as well. Sure he wont see those immense amounts of carries he used to but it doesnt devalue what he means to our offense Without him, we’re completely one dimensional. All you guys are doing is making him mad which is good. Take it out on the field Turner. I believe in his abilities. I wouldnt have drafted him in my fantasy league AGAIN this year if I didnt. I’ve rode with Turner every year since he’s been here and I’m not gonna stop now.

[...] Falcons RB Michael Turner of having just 14 yards on eight carries in the preseason, “It’s just a glorified practice. You just want to get out there, get the looks and make the corrections from the game tape like you [...]

Whadda Ya Know?

August 22nd, 2012
3:15 pm

Man y’all must be trippin’. Old cement shoes Turner might catch the ball but he’s going to be slow as molasses trying to get by anyone. Did you see the screens to him in the last game? LBs and DBs were on him before he could say….HAAAMBURGER!

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 22nd, 2012
4:22 pm

teamguy — You are exactly right. He hasn’t fussed or moaned once. I tried to get him to throw Jimmy Leonhard under the bus after he went after his ankle the year he was hurt and he wouldn’t even do that despite Ovie encouraging him to do so.

LOL At The Aints

August 22nd, 2012
5:28 pm

T h e Burner Turner

August 22nd, 2012
9:39 pm

They made me take a drug test this afternoon and I was afraid of what they might find.

Results came back….

A heavy dose of Gravy !

[...] Running back Michael Turner still a weapon [...]

Blake

August 23rd, 2012
1:04 am

Turner looks slow to me….He has no burst at all….

[...] Turner has accounted for more than 1,450 yards in offense in three of the past four seasons. He’s gone to two Pro Bowls and made the All-Pro team after his mega-2008 season. Turner is still a weapon in a passing league. [...]

todd

August 23rd, 2012
7:09 am

“Turner has had over 1,450 (total yards) in 3 of his 4 seasons. I don’t understand why some of y’all rip him so.” DOL- Turner is done. I’d be surprised if he hit 1000 this year.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 23rd, 2012
8:13 am

todd — I think there is still some gas in the tank. I think it’s OK if you let him go down to E and stall on the side of the road. Then you turn it over to #32. He has resurrected the team and should be accorded much more respect.

DR. FALCON

August 23rd, 2012
10:09 am

I’M NOT READY TO THROW DIRT ON THIS GUY YET! HE IS STILL A BELL COW! 1,275YDS, 12 TD’S, IS WITHIN REACH! RUN MICHAEL, RUN!!!

[...] Turner has accounted for more than 1,450 yards in offense in three of the past four seasons. He’s gone to two Pro Bowls and made the All-Pro team after his mega-2008 season. Turner is still a weapon in a passing league. [...]

[...] Running back Michael Turner still a weapon [...]

[...] Running back Michael Turner still a weapon [...]

[...] Running back Michael Turner still a weapon [...]

[...] Running back Michael Turner still a weapon [...]