Michael Turner’s Fire Burns Bright For The Falcons

By Matthew Asher

Michael “The Burner” Turner, RB #33
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 244
Age: 30
College: Northern Illinois
Experience: 9 years

michael turner Michael Turners Fire Burns Bright For The Falcons

Credit, Jeff Gross/Getty Images

With the NFL depending more and more upon a passing game, it’s refreshing to come across a player who still has the old-school running back “Three yards and a cloud of dust” mentality. Fortunately for the Falcons, their running back Michael Turner exemplifies that state of mind.

Turner played college football at Northern Illinois University. His freshman and sophomore years were notable for being “un”-notable. In those two years, he ran the ball 292 times, rushing for a combined 1,378 yards and 10 touchdowns averaging 4.7 yards per carry.

Everything changed his junior year. In just 12 games, Turner carried the ball 338 times for an impressive 1,915 yards, 19 touchdowns averaging 5.7 yards per carry. In five of those games he rushed for more than 200 yards and had two games where he scored five touchdowns.

As a senior, his numbers were still impressive, but not an improvement. Just like his junior year, Turner finished second in the nation in rushing yards. In addition to Turner’s 1,648 rushing yards, he scored 17 total touchdowns (14 on the ground, 3 receiving) and finished up his career at Northern Illinois with school records in both rushing yards (4,941) and touchdowns (46). Those two records have been broken by Garrett Wolfe.

Michael was selected by the San Diego Chargers in the fifth round of the 2004 NFL Draft as the 154th overall pick. As a rookie, Turner played the majority of his snaps on special teams, but was a starter in the final game of the season against the Kansas City Chiefs. He finished the game with 87 rushing yards.

As LaDainian Tomlinson’s backup, Turner didn’t see much action as a running back, but when he was put in the game, he made the most of his opportunities. In his sophomore year in the NFL, Turner came off the bench to help the Chargers defeat the then-undefeated Indianapolis Colts. He rushed for 113 yards including the game-clinching 83-yard touchdown run.

It wasn’t until 2008 that Turner finally started to get attention from the league. In the AFC Divisional playoff game, Turner filled in for the injured Tomlinson with 71 rushing yards on 17 carries.

In the 2008 offseason, the Falcons signed Turner to a six-year contract. In his first game as a Falcon, the running back broke the franchise single game rushing record with 220 yards on 22 carries and two touchdowns. The 220 yards was, at the time, the second-highest opening day rushing total behind O.J. Simpson’s 250 yards in 1973. The 220 yards did set a new NFL record as the most rushing yards debuting for a new team. Turner started all 16 games for the Falcons that year and broke the team record of rushing touchdowns with 17 (Jamal Anderson scored 14 in 1998).

Proving that he didn’t burn out after that monstrous first game, Turner also rushed for 208 yards in the final game of the season, making him the first Falcon to record a 200+ yards rushing in both the first and last game of the season. The player’s hard work in the 2008 campaign was rewarded with his first Pro Bowl selection.

Turner currently owns two Atlanta Falcon records. The aforementioned rushing touchdowns in a season and franchise leader in rushing touchdowns with 52 following the 2012 Week 3 victory over his former team. Turner also shares the franchise record with T.J. Duckett for most TD’s in a single game (4) and total points scored in a single game (24).

For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Falcons news, see CBS Sports Atlanta.

Matthew Asher is a freelance writer covering all things Atlanta sports related. His work can be found on Examiner.com.

  • http://atlanta.cbslocal.com/2012/09/28/undefeated-falcons-welcome-panthers-to-georgia-dome/ Undefeated Falcons Welcome Panthers To Georgia Dome « CBS Atlanta

    […] yards while Matt Ryan has thrown for 793. DeAngelo Williams has a 3.8 yards per carry average while Michael Turner’s carries average 3.7 yards. Carolina’s top two receivers have 478 receiving yards while […]

  • http://atlanta.cbslocal.com/2012/09/30/cam-newton-says-goodbye-to-kitty-still-falls-short-to-falcons/ Cam Newton Says Goodbye To Kitty, Still Falls Short To Falcons « CBS Atlanta

    […] Michael Turner gets an A. Finally the Falcons have a runner who put up 100+ yards in a game. Turner finished the game with 103 rushing yards on 13 carries averaging just under 8 yards per carry. Turner did more than just run the ball though. In the third quarter Matt Ryan connected with Turner for a 60-yard touchdown pass, Turner’s first NFL receiving touchdown. He finished the day with 171 all-purpose yards, averaging 10.7 yards per touch. […]

  • http://atlanta.cbslocal.com/2012/10/03/falcons-first-quarter-report-card/ Falcon’s First Quarter Report Card « CBS Atlanta

    […] For Ryan and company, the passing attack doesn’t stop with these three receivers. Running backs Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers also have one TD reception […]

  • http://atlanta.cbslocal.com/2012/10/08/atlanta-dominates-everywhere-but-scoreboard/ Atlanta Dominates Everywhere But Scoreboard « CBS Atlanta

    […] CThe Carolina game may be an aberration for the season, Atlanta’s rushing attack, along with Michael Turner, were back to being a pedestrian running game. Racking up just 83 yards on 28 attempts for only 3 […]

  • http://atlanta.cbslocal.com/2012/10/17/rising-and-falling-falcons/ Rising And Falling Falcons « CBS Atlanta

    […] back Michael Turner has been consistently inconsistent. Except for the game against Carolina, Turner hasn’t […]

  • http://atlanta.cbslocal.com/2012/11/05/mark-it-eight-falcons-survive-battle-against-big-d/ Mark it Eight: Falcons Survive Battle Against Big D « CBS Atlanta

    […] Turner gets a B+. For just the second time this season, Turner the Burner rushed for more than 100 yards in a game. He did score Atlanta’s lone touchdown. The reason he […]

  • http://atlanta.cbslocal.com/2012/11/14/atlantas-michael-turner-not-living-up-to-his-contract/ Atlanta’s Michael Turner Not Living Up To His Contract « CBS Atlanta

    […] the Atlanta Falcons signed Michael Turner to a six-year $34.5 million deal in 2008, they hoped he would improve upon his rushing stats when […]

  • http://atlanta.cbslocal.com/2012/11/15/saints-game-took-its-toll-on-falcons/ Saints Game Took Its Toll On Falcons « CBS Atlanta

    […] in practice: John Abraham, Jonathan Babineaux, Harry Douglas, Tony Gonzalez, Stephen Nicholas, Michael Turner and Vance Walker. Fortunately Smitty expects most of them to be able to participate fully […]

blog comments powered by Disqus
Taz Goes Big With A New Daily Show!
Popeyes Crash Your House!

Watch & Listen