Heading into the season, Falcons head coach Mike Smith seemed more willing than ever to be cautious with how he distributed carries to RB Michael Turner, who missed five of the final seven games during the team's playoff push last season because of an ankle injury.
While Atlanta had solid depth behind Turner, it went 2-3 without the 2008 All-Pro.
Turner, who is on pace for about 300 carries this season, told PFW he likes how he's been used thus far. The seventh-year veteran has rushed for 114 yards or more in three of the past five games and is averaging 4.5 yards per carry. He's rushed more than 19 times in a game only twice this season.
"I'm happy with it, but I don't know if it's by design or if it's just (determined) by how the course of the game is flowing," he said of his workload in an Oct. 27 interview. "It's not like it's a pitch count or something like that, like in baseball.
"You can't predict how many carries a running back is going to get during the course of the game. It depends on how the game is going."
He's well off the pace he set in '08, when he rushed a league-high 376 times, but it hasn't kept Turner from completely avoiding injury. He injured his groin against Arizona in Week Two and he missed part of the game.
"I'm holding up a pretty good," he said. "I can't even compare the numbers (to prior seasons) right now. The carries I have now, compared to the carries I had in '08 … it's all the same to me."
After being a part-time back behind LaDainian Tomlinson in San Diego earlier in his career, Turner, since coming to Atlanta 2½ seasons ago, has had about three times as many carries in that time span as he did in four seasons with the Chargers. He's still relatively young — Turner will turn 29 in February — but he has changed the way he takes care of himself in an effort to extend his career without becoming less productive.
"You have to be more careful now," he said. "When you get older, your metabolism doesn't work as fast as it used to. Some things, when you're young, you can recover from fast, and (now) you can't, so you just got to be more conscious of it."