The Atlanta Falcons' coaching staff has talked throughout the offseason about how Michael Turner will see fewer carries this season as the offense relies on the pass more often. But head coach Mike Smith wants it to be known that no matter what, Turner is still his main man in the backfield.
"I think Mike is going to be an integral part of our offense," Smith said to the team's official web site. "... 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."
Of course, what did you expect Smith to say when asked about Turner's role in their new offense? It would have been awesome if he said something to the tune of, "I just think we're gonna ignore Michael this year." The article linked below mentions how Turner is working on his receiving skills in camp, but don't read too much into that. He never has and probably never will top 20 catches in a season.
Yes, Turner is going to get his carries. I figure 240 with literally a handful of receptions added on. He should also reach between 8-10 touchdowns. But his days of 300+ carries are gone. He is slower. He did wear down in the final weeks last season. He is 30. The offense won't go through him any longer, and I think you'll see more work given to Jason Snelling and especially Jacquizz Rodgers this year. If Turner hits 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns, you should be thrilled. Turner is a mid-range RB2 at best. He has a small amount of upside.