ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 15: Michael Turner #33 of the Atlanta Falcons runs the ball against the Ashton Youboty #31 of the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Georgia Dome on December 15, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Despite finishing as the third-best rusher in the NFL last season, everyone seems to be convinced we'll see a huge decline in Michael Turner's game this season. He doesn't appear to see it that way.
The Burner racked up 1,340 yards and averaged 4.5 YPC in 2011. However, he's officially out of his 20s now, and there's been talk of a "pitch count" being put on him in 2012.
When asked if his workload would be limited, Turner said, "I don't know. They say that every year." He laughed with the media as he spoke, clearly indifferent to everyone's speculation at this point.
With Dirk Koetter running the offense in Jacksonville, Maurice Jones-Drew managed to lead everyone in rushing last year, even with the minimal amount of help he received from the rest of the offense. Turner seems excited about what a new OC can do for him, citing the fact that Atlanta has a ton of weapons to complement him.
He said there "might be a little bit more passing than normal" when asked about his role for next season, but there's no need to worry about him missing out on playing time. I fully expect Turner to hit the 1,000-yard mark for the third consecutive year, and you should too.
Running backs have the shortest lifespan in the NFL, but No. 33 has plenty left in the tank. He looks ready to go right now, and I'm confident the Falcons will continue to rely on him. We'll see more of Quizz here and there, but Turner can still get the job done.
Remember his days in San Diego? He was given 228 carries in four years out in California, which is why he isn't completely worn down at the age of 30. Yes, this is the age RBs are supposed to completely fall off. It's not a law, though.
Willis McGahee turned 30 in the middle of last season, and he still averaged 4.8 YPC on the year. Fred Jackson turned 31 in February, but look at the year he was having for the Bills. Nearly 1,000 yards in just 10 games? I guess that's not bad. He suffered a leg injury, but up until that point he was on fire.
Throw in the fact that the Falcons are focusing hard on the O-line improving and I'd say things are looking good for this guy going forward. The majority of critics out there will tell you right now it's not going to happen, but I have faith in Turner.
The run game will still be a major part of the offense (Smitty will see to that). He's exceeded 1,300 yards for the past two years, so hitting 1K isn't a big stretch for him. I don't think he'll be matching the production from 2010 and 2011, but I strongly believe he'll reach four-digit territory. Do you agree with me?