Brown Confident that Limiting Turner Won’t Affect Offense

Brown Confident that Limiting Turner Won’t Affect Offense

Jay Adams

Published July 13, 2012 at 9:00 AM

With less mileage on Michael Turner, he’s not exactly your average 30-year-old running back as far as the number of hits he’s taken in his career. Still, the Falcons have talked about limiting Turner’s workload in 2012, and running backs coach Gerald Brown says he’s completely confident that utilizing Jason Snelling and Jacquizz Rodgers more won’t slow down the production from the running backs.

Jay Adams: You’ve got a couple of new faces and plenty of familiar faces in your position group. Where do you see things standing as you head into training camp?

Gerald Brown: The tailback position is pretty much what it was last year with Mike (Turner), Jason Snelling and Jacquizz (Rodgers), and then we’ve got some other guys that are competing — Dimitri (Nance), Antone (Smith), (Robbie) Frey — so the tailback position is pretty much intact. The fullback position, (Mike) Cox came in and from the Indy game on (last season) as our starting fullback. We drafted Bradie Ewing, who we feel good about, so I think we have good, healthy competition at the fullback position, and that’s what we want. We want guys competing and fighting to win jobs, and I think that’s where we are right now.

JA: The offensive system has yet to be fully revealed, but offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter has said enough that the screen game will be more of a part of the offense this year. How does that change what you do on a daily basis with the running backs?

GB: It’s just part of what we do; it’s just that we’ll do more of it. Some of the techniques and how we do things may be a little different, but we’ve had screens in the system. We just didn’t get to them as much. This year, I think there’s a commitment to them, so our backs just have got to be prepared to handle all the adjustments off of our screen game.

JA: You lose a veteran in Ovie Mughelli and gain, like you said, a rookie in Bradie Ewing. Just from their looks, it seems like they have two different styles. With his background at Wisconsin, Ewing seems like he can be a versatile threat in the passing game. What’s your assessment of what he’s going to be able to bring to that position?

GB: Bradie runs well. He catches the ball well out of the backfield, but a lot of the things that he had done at Wisconsin are things that we do here. It’s the same type of blocking scheme and that type of thing, so that’s beneficial to him, as well. I think you find out a lot about that position once you put the pads on, but right now where he is, I think he’s moving along well for us. He understands the offense. He’s doing things that we ask our fullback to do, so we’re excited about having him here with us.

JA: Michael Turner is 30 years old, but he’s in a unique situation in that, because of becoming a starting running back later in his career, he hasn’t taken the same number of hits as the average 30-year-old running back. What do you see as his ability to produce coming up in 2012? Can a 30-year-old running back with less mileage still produce at a high level?

GB: Oh, I think absolutely, Mike Turner can produce. What he’s done over the last four years is pretty amazing. Right now, where we are and where he is physically, he looks as good to me right now as he has ever looked from a physical standpoint. He’s running the ball well and he’s doing things well in practice, but we’ve talked about the load that he’s carried over the last four years. We know we have to monitor that because we want him to be strong at the end of the year. At the same time, we’re trying to win ballgames, but we feel good about Jason Snelling and Jacquizz Rodgers, and when Michael’s not in there, it’s OK. Give them the ball, whether we’re running or passing, and let’s just run the offense. I think we’ll be in good shape there.

JA: You mentioned Quizz, and he’s a guy that fans are really excited about. Knowing him a year now, what differences have you noticed in him this year?

GB: I think the thing that surprised the staff most last year was not having an offseason program and the Jacquizz coming in and contributing as much as he did throughout the season. Mike had most of the workload, but Jacquizz can run our two-minute, he can run our no-huddle attack, he can run our offense and it’s just a compliment to him that he can come in and learn it. He’s a smart kid, he’s a physical kid and he certainly has the ability to make plays, so this offseason is beneficial for him because he missed it last year, as it is for everybody, but he stepped up last year and was a big-time contributor for us.

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