Michael Turner has been just like one of us when it comes to weight gain. He denies it.
He denied throughout last season that he was a step slower — before his ankle injury — because he was out of shape. Coaches and team officials stayed mum on the subject. His fans thought the media (like me) was being too hard on him. Then this offseason, Turner started to concede there might have been a problem. In a Q-and-A with our Darryl Ledbetter, he said: “I’m still the same [weight], it just looks different. I just moved it around a little bit to all the right places.”
Yes, moved it around. Who among us haven’t been trying to “move around” 10 pounds for years? Does insurance cover “move it around” surgery?
But here’s the good news: The more interviews Turner does, the closer he comes to actually saying, “I was a porkpie.”
He just flogged himself, relatively speaking, in a story with SI.com’s Jim Trotter. The meat of the story (so to speak):
“If you go back and look at some pictures of me from last year at this time, I probably looked big — a lot bigger than normal. I was heavy, too heavy. It was hard for me to overcome.”
Turner didn’t need the photos to know he was well past the 250 pounds that appeared next to his name on the roster. He knew things had changed when he struggled to pull his practice jersey over his midsection. It wasn’t as bad as a woman falling on her back and wiggling her way into a pair of jeans that are two sizes too small, but it was close.
The extra weight wasn’t the primary reason Turner ran for only 871 yards last season — a high ankle sprain was the leading culprit. It sidelined him for five games and parts of two others. Still Turner believes the added weight didn’t help him, which is why he reported for offseason workouts this year at a legitimate 250.
I’ve been high on the Falcons going into next season, Turner is the biggest reason why, even more than the improved defense and the expected bounce-back year by quarterback Matt Ryan. Remember, two years ago, when Turner finished second in the league in rushing with 1,699 yards and the Falcons went 11-5, Ryan was a rookie and the defense was a wreck.
A running game helps everybody.
In this case, so does confession.
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