posted 8 years ago
LAKE FOREST —
Garrett Wolfe likes to needle Michael Turner.
“When I text him, I talk about how big he looks in that uniform,” Wolfe said. “He doesn’t like that too much.”
That’s about the only thing Turner doesn’t like about being a Falcon. The 5-foot-10, 244-pound Turner, who held Northern Illinois’ career rushing record before the Bears’ Wolfe passed him, is playing even bigger than he looks in his first year in Atlanta after four years of backing up All-Pro LaDainian Tomlinson in San Diego.
“Michael just needed an opportunity,” said Wolfe, a backup for the Bears (3-2), who play at Atlanta (3-2) on Sunday. “Now that he’s getting an opportunity, the world gets to see just how good he is.”
Turner averaged 57 carries his four seasons in San Diego. The two-time NCAA rushing runner-up has almost twice that many carries in his first five games as a Falcon, and leads the NFL in rushing with 543 yards.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Turner said on a teleconference Wednesday. “I’ve been patient. Now I’m making the most of the opportunity.”
In limited action, Turner broke off three of the longest 11 runs in San Diego history (83, 74 and 73 yards). Yet when he became an unrestricted free agent, Atlanta was the only team to pursue him hard, signing Turner to a six-year, $34.5 million contract.
“By far they were the most aggressive team that really wanted me,” Turner said.
So he wanted them. Even though the Falcons were 3-13 last year.
“They’ve been through a tough stretch, but I didn’t care,” Turner said. “I was open-minded about coming here. You can’t predict when a team is ready to make a turnaround.”
A lot of teams plugged their running backs holes in a draft that was deep in running backs. The Bears, for instance, took star rookie Matt Forte in the second round, rather than sign native son Turner, who graduated from North Chicago High School.