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Saints vs. Falcons: Mike Smith addresses concerns about Michael Turner

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Michael Turner has gotten few carries than in previous seasons. What does that mean for the Falcons' rushing attack, and their offense in general?

Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

Falcons' coach Mike Smith addressed concerns about the Atlanta running game in his Tuesday press conference. Running back Michael Turner has seen a diminished workload this season, as he is averaging only 15 carries per game. Coach Smith explained that the Falcons are trying to mix things up to better utilize their rushing depth. He told the media:

"We've got a lot of guys that we feel can touch the football on the offensive side, not just in the running back position but in the wide receiver position as well. Thought it was a nice mix and liked the way we started the game as far as our rushing last week."

Although Turner is still the team's leading rusher, Jacquizz Rodgers has gotten 60 carries and also has 35 receptions. Wide receiver Julio Jones has also gotten four rushing attempts. This season, the Falcons have only generated 971 rushing yards (fifth-worst in the NFL). Still, Smith thinks that Turner can be productive even with his reduced carries:

"Again, we've stated from the very beginning that you weren't going to look up at the end of the season and see that one back had 300 carries. That's not the way this offense is built now. It was different three or four years ago, but now it's much different."

Last season, Turner averaged 4.5 yards per carry. This year, he is down to 3.5 yards per carry. Despite the downturn in rushing yards, the Falcons rank eighth in the NFL with 26.7 points per game this season. This week they face the New Orleans Saints, who have the league's worst rushing defense (156.5 rushing yards allowed per game).

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.