In his weekly Monday news conference, Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith had little details to offer on the status of starting running back Michael Turner (sprained ankle) other than that he expects Turner to play again in 2009, but he did offer some optimism on No. 2 back Jerious Norwood (hip flexor), who has missed the last four games.
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Turner, the NFL's second-leading rusher in 2008 who had accumulated 428 yards on 47 carries over the last three games, left Sunday's game in the second quarter and did not return. Smith said that Turner had undergone tests and would undergo further tests after the 3 p.m. news conference. He said he expected to have more news on Wednesday, the first day by which the team must issue NFL-mandated injury reports.
Smith was asked to offer his assessment if Turner cannot play on Sunday.
"Assuming the worst, if Michael cannot play then Jason Snelling will play our running back, as well as Jerious Norwood," he said. "We are certainly hoping that Jerious will be back... We are anticipating a chance for him to get out there and work with us on Wednesday."
Smith said he did not want to divulge too many details on Monday for fear of giving the Giants a competitive advantage, but prodded by the media he twice responded that he was "very confident" Turner would play again this season. He also said that after the game Turner "was moving around pretty good."
Snelling, who rushed for 61 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries in the 28-19 loss to Carolina on Sunday, said he was ready to assume Turner's spot if Turner could not play.
"If Mike's out -- or whatever the situation is -- I'll be ready to go," he said.
Wide receiver Roddy White praised Snelling for his work, but he was honest in appraising Turner's worth.
"Snell came in and played well," White said. "He rushed the ball real well in that situation. We're going to miss the big guy [Turner] in the goal line 'cause he goes down there and usually punch it in real easily... Hopefully, we can get Mike back as soon as possible. Sunday, preferably, and we can get rolling again. Three straight games over 100 yards, he looked like he was going to be on a tear for at least 200 in that game. We need that guy. He's special. He's our MVP, man. As long as we got him, the offense kind of rolls smoothly."
Examining the Field Goal Unit
Jason Elam missed his fifth field goal of the season on Sunday, a 34-yarder. His 64-percent success rate ranks him 33rd of 36 kickers in the NFL this season.
"The missed field goal yesterday we did not handle the operation of the snap, hold and kick very well and when that operation does not go smoothly, it puts stress on the attempt," Smith said. "Jason has not kicked the ball as well as he has in the past. And it definitely is a concern for us."