One of Mike Smith's goals this season was to reduce running back Michael Turner's load somewhat in the Atlanta Falcons' offense. The idea was twofold: to feature Atlanta's talented passing game more, and to keep Turner fresh in case the Falcons made the postseason.
The idea is looking pretty smart now. With the Falcons entrenched as the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs, Turner's legs might be fresher than they have for previous postseason appearances. And the Falcons will need him ready to go if they hope to finally advance in the Matt Ryan-Smith era.
Turner is on pace for only 230 carries with one game remaining. As Daniel Cox of atlantafalcons.com writes, that could be beneficial. Turner agrees:
"I'm fresher now than I've ever been before at this point in the season," Turner said. "I feel good."
Turner hasn't been the explosive back that was the featured component in Atlanta's offense the four previous seasons. But he's been great in goalline situations and has nine touchdowns.
The back will likely be one of several Falcons to rest this weekend when Atlanta closes out the regular season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.