Turner returning to prominence for Falcons
Running back Michael Turner has found his groove and it couldn’t
come at a better time for the Atlanta Falcons.
The first two weeks of the season were tough on Turner, who
struggled to establish some rhythm on the field and made his
circumstances worse with a Sept. 18 arrest on DUI and speeding
But his showing over the last two weeks proves that Turner
perhaps has regained some focus in Atlanta’s offense.
”Yeah, and hopefully we can keep that going,” Turner said on
Friday. ”There’s still some things we need to improve on, but
we’re winning, so everything’s fine. You’d like to fix it while
we’re winning than wait ’til something bad happens and then you
start worrying about it. Get it while it’s good.”
Turner averaged a paltry 2.6 yards per carry over his first 28
attempts this season, his most explosive run coming 15-yard gain
that helped the Falcons seal a Week 2 victory over Denver.
A few hours after the game, Turner was arrested in Gwinnett
County driving 97 mph on Interstate-85 and was charged with
Because it’s still an ongoing legal matter, Turner said he will
not comment on the incident until it’s complete, but he did
apologize for embarrassing the team and vowed to get better on the
His promise has held true so far.
Turner has averaged 6.8 yards per attempt over the last two
weeks and looks more like the two-time Pro Bowl running back who
has rushed for 5,538 yards and a franchise record 52 touchdowns
since signing as a free agent in 2008.
When Turner is in sync, Atlanta’s opponents are forced to bring
up a safety for run support, a scenario that gives quarterback Matt
Ryan the option of using play-action passes to exploit one-on-one
matchups for receivers Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez and Julio
It’s a good formula for success and one that Atlanta (4-0) hopes
to keep building on Sunday at Washington (2-2).
”When (you) play against us, what are you going to do?” said
Gonzalez, the 16th-year tight end and the NFL’s No. 2
career-leading receiver. ”It just adds to the choose-your-poison
offense that we want to be, that we strive to be.”
”We’ll see what they to do, but if they want to stop the run,
they’ve got to put more people in the box, which is going to open
up for Matt and passing game to throw it to us. So that’s the good
balance and we’ve got to keep it up.”
Four-time Pro Bowl receiver Roddy White benefited enormously
from the man-to-man matchups against Carolina, catching for 169
yards and two touchdowns.
”Any time we can get the big guy running like that and those
guys got to bring their safeties down to the box, me and Julio are
going to have a fun day,” White said. ”We love when we can get
that safety down there and helping out on the run and we can
play-action and go deep and things like that. If the big boy can
run like that for the next 13 games (laughing), we’ll be
The Falcons are third in scoring with 31 points per game, maybe
not a good omen for a Washington defense that allows an average of
30.8 and ranks 27th.
Washington’s pass rush has produced just seven sacks, with 3.5
of them belonging to outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, but Turner
believes the Redskins could still pose some problems with ball
Led by 15th-year inside linebacker London Fletcher, Washington’s
3-4 front has helped lead an attack that ranks sixth in the NFL
with nine takeaways.
”He’s probably the most underrated player in the league,”
Turner said. ”His resume speaks for itself. He’s always going to
be around the football. He has a great nose for the football, has
great skills to get off blockers and make plays. We’ve got to be
able to handle him and other guys. They’ve got some big boys up
Turner just wants to keep staying his current course – shoulder
pads square, hitting an open space and breaking tackles into the
second level of the defense.
He even showed some savvy in the passing game last week,
catching a screen over the middle and running for a 60-yard
”We want to be two-dimensional offensively,” Turner said. ”As
long as we can keep improving, we’ll be all right.”
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