Falcons-Bears matchup of the day: Saturday

Posted Sept. 09, 2011 @ 2:09 p.m.
Posted By Dan Parr

Here's a look at a key matchup heading into Sunday's Week One tilt between the Falcons and Bears.

Falcons RB Michael Turner vs. Bears' linebackers

For all the attention paid to the addition of Julio Jones and the Falcons' passing game, RB Michael Turner is still a huge part of the offense. Atlanta is going to need him to be productive Sunday as he returns to a familiar area — the Waukegan, Ill., native was a star during his college days at Northern Illinois University.

Turner played through a groin injury that required offseason surgery in 2010, and still was named to the All-Pro team. He has the size and burst to break tackles and wear down a defense.

The Bears have great speed at linebacker with MLB Brian Urlacher, WLB Lance Briggs and SLB Nick Roach. They get downhill in a hurry and the Bears were very tough to run against last season — they ranked second in the league in run defense — but arm tackles against Turner will not do. He's not going to go down without a battle, and the Bears know it.

Teams have loaded up to stop Turner by putting extra defenders inside the box in past seasons, but with so many weapons at receiver and QB Matt Ryan making the throws, putting a safety closer to the line of scrimmage is going to be a very dangerous strategy. One area to watch is the interior of the Falcons' offensive line — C Joe Hawley, filling in for Todd McClure (knee), and ORG Garrett Reynolds are making their first career regular-season starts.