Falcons RB Michael Turner says catching passes in the screen game for running backs is something they’ve been working on in practice and throughout camp. So far this season running backs and fullbacks have caught 12 passes. Turner is getting familiar with an increased pass-catching role this preseason under new coordinator Dirk Koetter.
“I’m comfortable with it,” Turner said. “I’ve caught more passes than I have before last year. I’m just trying to get in the groove of things and getting accustomed to this offense.”
Despite the speculation that has swirled around Atlanta’s offense becoming more open and pass-friendly this season, HC Mike Smith said Turner and his running will remain a big part of what they’re trying to accomplish on offense. More importantly, Smith said despite what direction the offense goes in one game to the next, Turner is still the featured running back for the Falcons.
“I think Mike is going to be an integral part of our offense,” Smith said. “We have done some work in some different areas in the first two preseason games. Again, you’re not game planning, you’re trying to work on certain things. Michael is our No. 1 back and he’s going to get his touches just like the other guys. It’s going to be based on how people try to defend us.”
For those that want to put Turner to pasture, he had eleven 20+ yard runs in '11 (3rd in league) and four 40+ yard runs (2nd), with a 4.5 YPC. While he did have 1,189 carries in his last four seasons, he only had 228 in his first four seasons (in SD behind LaDainian Tomlinson), so he doesn't have as many miles as most 30-year-old RBs. ATL will reduce his workload but he's still a good bet for 250 or so carries and his fifth-straight 10+ TD season. While Turner is on the downswing, he can contribute as an RB2 readily available in the 4th or 5th round.