Turner due for a bounce back year in 2010?

Michael Turner didn’t want to hear about the “Curse of 370” heading into last season, but after ankle injuries limited him to only 871 yards on 178 carries, it appears as though “the Burner” is well aware of the damages a full workload can have on a running back.

And so are the Falcons.

Turner recently admitted that he fell out of shape last offseason, which may have contributed to his slow start. Turner didn’t really resemble the ’08 version of himself until a Week 8 Monday night effort against the Saints in which he rushed for 151 yards on 20 carries with one touchdown. Until that point, Turner didn’t appear to be hitting holes with much authority and even looked slow at times.

But Turner apparently learned a lesson from last offseason, because he reported to a recent Falcons mini-camp in great shape according to several reports. Head coach Mike Smith was even quoted as saying his running back was in “outstanding shape” and was moving “extremely well” in his first day back. That’s great news for Turner, the Falcons and a handful of fantasy owners that were burned (no pun intended) by the running back’s production (or lack thereof) last season.

That said, even though he’s healthy and in shape, ESPN’s John Clayton reports that the Falcons still plan to limit Turner’s carries to fewer than 300 this season. Atlanta may have realized that his workload in ’08 was too much and with the emergence of Jason Snelling last season, there’s simply no reason to overwork Turner in 2010. Don’t forget that the Falcons still have Jerious Norwood in their backfield as well, a speedster that can provide a nice change of pace when he’s healthy. (Not that he’s ever healthy.)

If Clayton’s report is true and the Falcons are intending to keep Turner under 300 carries this season, it might be a situation that works out best for everyone. The Falcons can have a fresher Turner throughout the year and hopefully, into the playoffs, while Snelling will continue to get carries and provide Atlanta with another bruising back that can wear down defenses late in games.

It’s early, but things look good so far for “the Burner” getting back on track.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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