Turner wants bulk of Falcons’ carries
Mike Smith says he’s looking to find more help for Michael
Turner in the Falcons’ running game.
The plan worked last week, when it was easy to rest Turner in
Atlanta’s lopsided 31-7 win at Indianapolis. Turner had less than
half of Atlanta’s 41 carries.
By comparison, Turner had all but one of the carries given to
running backs in the Falcons’ previous game, a win over
Smith’s new plan to spread out the carries will be tested in
this week’s important game against New Orleans with first place in
the NFC South on the line.
Turner said Wednesday he’d like a heavy load of carries.
Smith said the workload will be determined by the ”feel of the
Smith said he decided in the Falcons’ bye week between the wins
over the Lions and Colts to take some of the load off Turner. Smith
said he and his assistant coaches decided that rookie backup
Jacquizz Rodgers could be trusted with a more important role.
”That was something that through our evaluation in our bye week
we saw that we needed to make sure that we felt comfortable with
Jacquizz in basically all phases, not just only as a third-down or
a change-of-pace back,” Smith said.
”He’s proven that he can run the ball from all of our personnel
groupings. He has a much better understanding than when he got here
in regards to his protection responsibilities. Jacquizz is becoming
the player we envisioned that he would be when we drafted him. He’s
been a great addition and through the second half of the season,
he’s another weapon that we’ll be able to put out there on the
field for our offense.”
Turner had 19 carries for 71 yards and a touchdown against the
Colts, modest totals by his standards.
Rodgers and Jason Snelling combined for 18 carries for 59 yards.
Rodgers’ 10 carries for 44 yards were his high totals for the
”Any chance you get an opportunity to make plays for your team,
it’s always a good thing,” said Rodgers, a fifth-round pick from
Oregon State. ”I’ve got to keep building and getting better every
week so it can help me be a better player and help the team.”
Turner didn’t sound convinced the distribution of carries in the
easy win over the Colts would set the pace for the second half of
”You know, we pretty much had the game in control last week,”
he said. ”It’s no need for anything fluky to happen out there and
it also gave us a chance for Jacquizz and Snelling to get some
work, too, and show what they have. It works good on my part. I’m
still fresh for the next game and we got the W. That’s what
Turner has had four games with more than 20 carries this season,
including back-to-back games with 27 carries against Carolina and
Detroit. He has 692 yards rushing with seven touchdowns.
He said he’s ready for a heavier dose against the Saints.
”If it needs to be, I’ll do whatever it takes to win,” he
said. ”We need this win. We want this win.
”Getting in the 20s and 30s, I’m fine with that. The more I get
it, the more I touch it, the more I feel it. I feel the game.
Hopefully I’ll wear the defense out, wear our opponents out, and
pop some big carries in the second half.”
Saints defensive tackle Tom Johnson said he noticed the Falcons
gave Turner more rest against the Colts.
”They’ve got three guys they like spreading the ball to,”
”They’re trying to spread the workload on Turner. He’s their
go-to guy on first and second down and then the rest of their guys
are rotating for third down, so they’re one of those teams that is
going to want to pound, pound, pound, and open plays for their wide
Smith said after Wednesday’s practice he will make decisions on
the carries during the game.
”We try to set parameters, but those are just parameters,”
Smith said. ”It’s really going to be the feel of the game and
who’s got the hot hand and how they’re trying to defend us. Michael
is our No. 1 back, there’s no doubt about it, and sometimes if he’s
getting stronger as the game goes on, it’s going to be tough not to
give him those carries.”
That’s just what Turner likes to hear as he continues to move up
the Falcons’ records. In only his fourth season with Atlanta,
Turner already has rushed for 46 touchdowns, two shy of Gerald
Riggs’ record of 48 rushing TDs from 1982-88.
Turner already is fifth on the team’s career rushing list with
4,633 yards, behind Riggs (6,631), William Andrews, Warrick Dunn
and Jamal Anderson.
”That’s where I want to be,” Turner said. ”I want to be up
there in franchise history as far as running backs go. That’s why
they brought me here, to make big plays and do good things for
NOTES: TE Tony Gonzalez (back), OT Sam Baker (back), DE Ray
Edwards (knee) and S William Moore (quad) missed practice. CB Brent
Grimes (knee) and DT Corey Peters (knee) were limited. DE John
Abraham and C Todd McClure had days off Smith routinely gives to
his veteran players.
AP Sports Writer Brett Martel in New Orleans contributed to this