Michael Turner To Actually Catch Passes In 2010?

Color me surprised.

There's been a lot of interesting storylines to emerge early on in the Falcons' 2010 training camp, but this one caught me considerably off guard. It's not a position battle involving Kerry "Sunshine" Meier (make this catch on!) and it's not a question of starters, something you'll see extensively discussed when Adam pops up the new Courage and Fight podcast. It's just...Michael Turner, catching more passes?

The mind boggles.

This doesn't come out of nowhere, unlike the Jaamal Anderson as left end bombshell Mike Smith dropped the other day. The brick house that is Michael Turner appears to have shed some mortar in the off-season, and the resulting sleeker model of the Burner is said by camp observers to look significantly faster.

A faster Turner is one that's more valuable off the edges and down the field, which may have inspired Smith to talk about getting his stud running back the ball more often in the passing game. They're serious about it, too:

"Michael just hasn't had the opportunity throughout his entire career to catch passes, but he does have good hands," Falcons coach Mike Smith said.

[....]

"He made a nice catch on a screen pass," running backs coach Gerald Brown said. "If he can improve that part of his game, that's just going to make him a better football player."

You may remember me as the jackass who recently declared that "(Turner) couldn't catch a cold with a compromised immune system," and you'll forgive me if I'm still slightly skeptical of this idea. A slimmer Turner that the coaching staff wants to save from a beating could actually be called upon to catch passes more often, but if you expect him to turn into Warrick Dunn out of the backfield....well, don't.

His career numbers are those of a guy who is never called upon to catch the ball, and Jerious Norwood and Jason Snelling are probably both better at it than him and will remain so. That said, if Smith is serious about this, Turner is putting in the work and the Falcons are willing to scheme for it, you could actually see Turner top his career total of 22 receptions in a single season. As a way to add a wrinkle to the offense and get Turner even more involved, that'd still be fantastic news.

Also, please consider this your training camp open thread for the day. I'm sure there'll be plenty more to talk about.

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