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Michael Turner’s groin is fine, should play against Saints

ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 19: Michael Turner  of the Atlanta Falcons walks to the locker room with trainers after injuring his groin against the Arizona Cardinals at Georgia Dome on September 19, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

I don’t know why I didn’t realize this before, but I just re-read the headline to this piece and it hit me that part of my job is to write about other mens’ groins.

Mom must be proud.

Falcons head coach Mike Smith reiterated today what he confirmed yesterday following Atlanta’s 41-7 thrashing of the Cardinals: Michael Turner is fine and barring a setback, will play against the Saints this Sunday.

After rushing for 75 yards on nine carries in the first quarter against the Cardinals, Turner suffered a groin injury and wasn’t inserted back into the game. But he didn’t need to go back in, as the Falcons built a big lead thanks in part to Jason Snelling’s (24 carries, 129 yards, 3 total TDs) monster day. It would have been foolish had Turner gone back into a blowout and risk further injury.

With a trip to New Orleans coming up this Sunday, the Falcons will need a healthy “Burner.” The Saints’ biggest weakness defensively is arguably up the gut and with the way Atlanta ran the ball yesterday against Arizona, having the backfield duo of Turner and Snelling is vital. The key to beating the Saints is a) getting pressure on Drew Brees and b) keeping him and his offense off the field. The Falcons can accomplish one of those two goals with a healthy dose of Turner and Snelling.

That said, this is also a game that Matt Ryan needs to step up. He played extremely well in the win over the Cardinals (21-32, 225 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs), but he failed to make plays against the Steelers in Week 1. That’s not to say that he didn’t play well, he just didn’t play well enough. When Pittsburgh shut Atlanta’s running game down, Ryan couldn’t come up with that one play in the passing game to turn the momentum on its head. If he’s in a similar situation this Sunday, it’s time for “Matty Ice” to produce.

This will be a great test for a team that many consider to be a sleeper Super Bowl contender this season. If Turner is 100%, the Falcons certainly have enough weapons to go toe-to-toe with the most explosive offense in the NFC. The Saints and Falcons played two thrilling games last year (both NO victories), and their first meeting this season should be more of the same.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @TheScoresReport. You can also follow TSR editor Gerardo Orlando @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom, and you can follow TSR editor Anthony Stalter @AnthonyStalter.

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NFL Week 12 Injury Updates: Turner, Bulger, Cooley & Megatron

Turner likely to sit vs. Bucs
Falcons running back Michael Turner is still nursing an ankle injury and is unlikely to practice or face the Buccaneers on Sunday. Jason Snelling will continue to get the bulk of the rushing load, although Jerious Norwood might be active after practicing some last week.

Cooley probably heading for the IR
Redskins tight end Chris Cooley said on Tuesday that he’ll probably wind up on injured reserve at some point this season. He had hoped to come back at some point this year, but his ankle injury is too severe. With Washington out of playoff contention, it makes sense that Cooley would call it a season.

Johnson could miss Thanksgiving Day game
The Lions could be without their two star players when they host the Packers on Thanksgiving Day. Calvin Johnson is dealing with hand and knee injuries and is doubtful to play. Matthew Stafford is also unlikely to play after suffering a shoulder injury in a win over the Browns last Sunday.

Bulger out 3-6 weeks
Rams quarterback Marc Bulger is out 3-6 weeks with a broken tibia. He suffered the injury in a loss to the Cardinals last Sunday and might miss the remainder of the season. Kyle Boller will probably start in his place, although rookie Keith Null might get a shot as well.

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Biggest injury concern: Orton, Turner, Brown or Benson?

Last week, several teams’ playoff hopes took major hits as key players all left their respective games due to various injuries.

The Broncos (Kyle Orton), Falcons (Michael Turner), Dolphins (Ronnie Brown) and Bengals (Cedric Benson) seem to be bitten he hardest by the injury bug but which injury should concern their respective teams the most? Let’s break down all four situations.

Broncos: Without Orton, Denver stands little chance of beating the Chargers at home this Sunday and even less of a chance of winning the AFC West. Orton isn’t Peyton Manning, but he might as well be the Broncos’ version of the star Colts’ QB because Chris Simms proved last week that he isn’t capable of keeping Denver afloat if Orton misses significant time. Now maybe with more preparation Simms will be better, but chances are the Broncos’ hopes of making the playoffs will fall flat with him under center. Orton says that he will play this weekend, even though he has torn ligaments in his left ankle. He admitted last year that he shouldn’t have tried to grit out a right ankle injury when he was playing for the Bears, so there’s a chance that he’s about to make the same mistake twice. This Sunday will be a good indication of how severe Orton’s injury really is.

Falcons: After getting off to a slow start, Turner was back in 2008 form the past couple weeks and even compiled 111 yards on only nine carries against the Panthers last Sunday before suffering a high ankle sprain. Usually those types of injuries take months to heel, but the Falcons don’t seem concerned about Turner missing more than a couple of weeks. The problem is that the Falcons are in the midst of a Wild Card chase in the NFC and they need their bruising back on the field – especially as Matt Ryan continues to struggle in his second year. Atlanta has capable backups in Jason Snelling and Jerious Norwood, but the latter can’t stay healthy and the former doesn’t have much experience. If Ryan can step up and prove he can lead the Falcons through the air, then Turner can rest up and be ready in time for a late-season run. If Ryan falters again like he has been, then Turner might feel the need to rush back from his injury sooner than he (or the team) intends.

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Turner has high ankle sprain; Ryan, Norwood and Snelling must step up

Jay Glazer of FOXSports.com reports that Michael Turner has been diagnosed with a high ankle sprain, although the Falcons are apparently “very optimistic” that the injury won’t keep their star back out too long.

High ankle sprains can sideline players for as little as 2-3 weeks or as long as six months depending on the severity of the injury. In Turner’s case, it sounds like he’ll only be out a couple of weeks but who knows at this point. The Falcons will be fighting for a playoff spot the rest of the season, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Turner came back earlier than expected.

Atlanta has two capable backs in Jerious Norwood and Jason Snelling, although the former can never stay healthy. Norwood has battled concussions and a hip injury for much of the season and hasn’t spent a lot of time on the field.

When healthy, Norwood is a lighting rod and a threat to score every time he gets his hands on the ball, while Snelling looked good on Sunday in the team’s loss to the Panthers. He’s kind of a poor man’s Turner in that he’s a load to bring down, but he has surprising quickness and is a good receiver out of the backfield.

The Falcons could certainly do worse than a combination of Snelling and Norwood – much worse. But the problem is that if Norwood can’t stay healthy, Snelling isn’t the same back as Turner is. He’s more than serviceable, but he’s never been counted on to carry the full load, so Norwood has to recover quickly or else the Falcons’ season could slip away in a hurry.

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