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5Q: The Burner


Jay Adams: In talking to Matt Ryan and Sean Weatherspoon in recent weeks, they've expressed a certain motivation stemming from the playoff loss to the Giants. How do you view that loss now and does it motivate you at all?

Michael Turner: Yeah, it motivates me every year seeing the top teams we lose to in the playoffs go on and play in the Super Bowl, so it's like a mixed feeling. I don't know if we're that close or if it's a sign that we've still got a lot of work to do. You've just got to go out there and fight hard and keep playing and just do better next year.

JA: New offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter has a reputation for opening up the passing game. Do you see that as an opportunity to open things up more for you to run?

MT: I know he ran the ball a lot in Jacksonville, mainly because they didn't have the same kind of firepower that we have here in Atlanta. He's a great offensive mind, from my understanding, and I'm just going to go out there and be ready when my number's called, so we're going to let stats and everything else take care of itself. We're going to go out there and do our jobs and hopefully everybody gets all the numbers they want. Having that type of talent in the backfield (in Jacksonville with Maurice Jones-Drew) and what he had done with it shows a good sign that he knows how to be effective with a great running back, and that's what I'm trying to be and that's what I'm trying to continue to be.

JA: While Koetter may be the biggest addition to the offense this offseason, there are plenty of guys around you returning. Tony Gonzalez announced he'd be coming back before the end of the season. Jason Snelling re-signed recently. Harry Douglas, too. What does it mean for the offense to have all those guys commit to coming back?

MT: It shows that the front office has not given up on us. That's one of the main things. We just probably needed a different voice to lead us and direct us offensively and defensively, but with the head man (Mike Smith) still here and keeping core guys and keeping the talent here, they felt it was important because they believe in us. We've just got to go out there and just make sure we prove them right.

JA: As far as running backs go, traditionally they start to hit their downward slope when they get to your age, but you certainly didn't have a traditional path through the NFL. How much has playing a backup role early in your career attributed to the quality of the years you're putting in now?

MT: Sitting behind for four years, I didn't get all the wear and tear. I didn't get thrown into the fire right away. I learned from a great back, LT (LaDainian Tomlinson), how he approaches the game, and right now, I'm 30, but I don't feel 30. Not at all. I don't feel tired or weak or anything. I'm still putting up numbers and I'm going to continue to do that. There's always going to be negative stuff out there about you, like when I first came here, it was the Curse of 370* and all that other stuff. You've just got to overcome it and just keep playing.

JA: In what has to be the most overlooked stat in the NFL, you, Matt Ryan and Roddy White have accomplished something very few have in the league. In three of the four years you've been together, Matt has thrown for 3,000 yards while Roddy has caught for 1,000 and you've run for 1,000. You're the first trio in franchise history to accomplish that more than once. What does that figure mean to you and what does it say about the talent and abilities of this offense?

MT: I guess we've got a three-headed monster here that's consistent (laughs). So, hopefully we all come together again and us three guys need to pick everybody else up and carry us through the playoffs. Play big in big games. Not to add pressure on us, but you need your leaders. I think, by what we've been doing here, ever since we got together, it needs to spread out a little bit so everyone else can pick their game up, too.

*The Curse of 370 is a theory that states any running back who reaches 370 carries in a single season will suffer a major injury or a lack of production the following year. In 2008, Turner's first year with the Falcons, he rushed 376 times, finishing the year second in the league in total rushing behind Minnesota's Adrian Peterson. The following season, Turner sprained his ankle during a Week 10 matchup and, although he tried to continue to play, finished the season with just 178 touches.

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