Falcons' running back Michael Turner "Michael Turner (American football)") said he was a fast healer and he proved to be a man of his word. After missing only one game with a sprained ankle, Turner is active for today's 1 p.m. game at the Georgia Dome&t=h "Georgia Dome") with Tampa Bay. In addition, Jerious Norwood also will be, making the Falcons' top three players on the depth chart at running back healthy and active for the first time since Oct. 18 against the Bears.
How much Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith chooses to play Turner will be interesting to see. The Falcons face a must-win situation, but they are going against the 32nd ranked rushing defense in the NFL and Jason Snelling has shown himself capable. Plus, as mentioned before, Norwood should prove a help.
Turner went down in the second quarter of the Falcons' 28-19 loss at Carolina on Nov. 15 and speculation ran wild that Turner had a high ankle sprain that would keep him sidelined between four and six weeks. When prodded, Smith refused to shed much light on the situation, fearing that he would yield a competitive advantage to the Falcons' opponents. Now, we can see why.
Turner, who ran for more than 100 yards in three straight games before he was hurt, averaging a monstrous 9.1 yards per carry in those games, returned to practice for the first time on Wednesday. On Thursday, he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he would be a "game-time" decision. It will also be interesting to see if Turner has his trademark explosiveness. What made him the NFL's No. 2 rusher last season with 1,699 yards is that ability for the break-away run. If the ankle is slowing him, he might not have that.
Regardless having him -- and Norwood -- back in the lineup should be a huge psychological lift.
The players who are inactive are John Parker Wilson (third quarterback), wide receivers Troy Bergeron and Brian Finneran, safety Charlie Peprah, linebacker Spencer Adkins, offensive linemen Garrett Reynolds and Quinn Ojinnaka, and defensive tackle Trey Lewis. The Falcons cut fullback Verron Haynes on Saturday to make room for Bergeron off the practice squad, probably as an insurance measure in case another wide receiver could not play. Marty Booker, who did not practice on Friday because of a non-football-related reason, was listed on Friday's injury report as "questionable," meaning there was a 50/50 chance that Booker would not play.
For the Buccaneers, all of their inactive players are young players (third year or less): Rudy Carpenter (third quarterback), wide receivers Yamon Figurs, Brian Clark, Terrence Nunn; offensive linemen Shawn Murphy and James Lee; and defensive linemen Kyle Moore and Dre Moore.
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