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Recent posts by Mike Wilkening
Here's a closer look at a matchup to watch in Sunday's Falcons-Browns game:
Falcons RBs Michael Turner and Jason Snelling vs. Browns' run defense
The Browns have had success recently by employing a physical running attack. The Falcons can play that game, too.
RB Michael Turner (74 carries, 281 yards, one TD) has had an up-and-down season. He was on his way to a big game against a shaky Arizona defense in Week Two when he suffered a groin injury after nine carries and 75 yards gained. FB Jason Snelling filled in and had a field day, racking up 129 yards and two TDs on 24 carries. However, Turner returned the following week and rushed for 114 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries in a key win at New Orleans. San Francisco held Turner to 16-50-0 in Week Four.
The 5-11, 244-pound Turner has dropped a little weight from a season ago, but power remains his game. Snelling (5-11, 223) gives the Falcons another stout back. Atlanta lost its fastest runner when Jerious Norwood suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week Two.
The Browns' run defense has been stronger vs. the run than it was a season ago. Cleveland, which allowed 4.57 yards per carry last season, is allowing 3.82 yards per rush attempt this season. The Browns, who allowed 122.7 yards per game on the ground in their first three games, held Cincinnati to just 67 yards on 18 attempts last week.
The Browns' front seven is improved over a season ago, which hasn't hurt the run defense, certainly. Ahytba Rubin has emerged as a solid starter at nose tackle and is now ahead of Shaun Rogers, still a formidable player, on the depth chart. The Browns' LB corps is versatile and deep.
No NFL team has attempted more running plays than the Falcons, and no NFC club is averaging more rushing yards. The challenge for the Browns' defense is clear, and its reward, should it slow Turner and Snelling, is this: more chances for Peyton Hillis to wear down the Falcons' stop unit.