Redskins

Falcons' Turner didn't expect such a reduced role

Falcons' Turner didn't expect such a reduced role

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) Michael Turner used to be Mr. Reliable for the Atlanta Falcons.

Hand off the ball and watch him churn out the yards.

But the big back's production is way down this season, a change of direction that was planned from the start but has been more pronounced than anyone expected. Even Turner conceded Wednesday he didn't expect his carries to be reduced so significantly.

``It's a mental challenge'' he said. ``But there's not anything I can do about it. Just go out there and play my role, do whatever it takes to help this team win.''

To his credit, Turner hasn't complained at all about having a lesser role in the offense, at least not publicly. But, at age 30, he scoffs at those who say he's all washed up.

``I don't feel any older,'' he insisted. ``I still feel fresh. I probably feel fresher that last year, actually.''

Even so, there's no denying that Turner is no longer regarded as one of the NFL's elite running backs. He's on pace to gain about 900 yards, far off the what he did his first four seasons in Atlanta.

Turner rushed for a career-best 1,699 yards in 2008, and more than 1,300 yards each of the last two seasons. The only time he was held to less than 1,000 yards in Atlanta was 2009, when he missed five games and parts of two others with injuries.

Coach Mike Smith made it clear at the beginning of the year he wanted to reduce Turner's workload, especially with a new offensive coordinator, Dirk Koetter, coming on board. The Falcons knew they had to do a better job taking advantage of their myriad weapons in the passing game: quarterback Matt Ryan, receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones, not to mention Hall of Famer-to-be Tony Gonzalez at tight end.

In addition, Atlanta wanted to expand the role of second-year back Jacquizz Rodgers, who at 5-foot-6 and 188 pounds is more of a darting, breakaway threat than the plodding Turner.

Still, Turner has admittedly been caught off guard to some degree. He's averaging just over 14 carries a game, down from nearly 19 a year ago and far off the pace he set during his Atlanta debut in `08, when he carried the ball a staggering 23.5 times per contest.

Asked if he knew what was coming, Turner chose his words carefully.

``Uhh, maybe not as much,'' he said. ``But it's been talked about for months. It's not like this is a total surprise or they caught me off guard with it. I've just to deal with it. Plus, we've got a good weapon in Jacquizz. They want to get him on the field as much as possible.''

Rodgers has rushed for 295 yards, averaging 4.1 per carry, and he's more of a threat as a receiver (43 catches, 327 yards). Turner has rushed for 689 yards, but his yards per carry are down to 3.7 - and, more troubling, he's averaged less than 3 yards in six games. There are times when the 247-pound back looks downright glacial getting to the hole, which has exposed the weaknesses of the guys up front, a group that has never been ranked among the NFL's top lines.

Turner always felt he was at his best when he ran the ball at least 20 times. Last week, he got it seven times for 14 yards in a 30-20 loss to Carolina.

``I think I get more of a rhythm'' with more carries, Turner said. ``Not just me, but the offensive line and the fullbacks, too.''

Despite Turner's drop-off, the Falcons (11-2) have already clinched the NFC South and hope to move a step closer to home-field advantage when they host the New York Giants (8-5) on Sunday.

The success of the team has made his disappointing season - which also included a DUI arrest - a little easier to take.

``I've just got to go out there and grind,'' Turner said. ``One team, one goal. The main thing is winning a Super Bowl. This is the way the coaches feel is the best chance for us to win the Super Bowl.''

With only one year left on his contract, Turner's tenure in Atlanta could be winding down.

It's certainly not farfetched to envision the Falcons going after another running back - perhaps in the draft - to pair with Rodgers.

But Ryan, for one, believes that Turner still has some effective days ahead of him.

``Mike has been a great player here for a long time,'' Ryan said. ``He's still had some unbelievable runs this year. He's just not done it as routinely as he's done it in the past. That can be for a lot of different reasons.''

Smith agreed, stressing that Atlanta's troubles running the ball - especially in short-yardage situations - aren't entirely the fault of Turner. The Falcons rank a dismal 28th in rushing, averaging just under 87 yards per outing.

``I don't think there's a marketable difference in terms of what Mike has been able to do,'' the coach said. ``We've just been very inconsistent running the football. When we've had to run it, we've been able to run the football. But we've been inconsistent in blocking and in executing the run game. I think that's one of the reasons our numbers are down.''

For now, there's no going back to the way things used to be.

``We're in transition right now,'' Turner said. ``People are used to the way we did things in the old days here. But it's new now. Everybody needs to adjust. Not just me. Everybody.''

Notes: S William Moore missed another day of practice. He has been sidelined since injuring a hamstring in the home win over New Orleans on Nov. 29. ... CB Asante Samuel, who dressed but didn't play in Carolina because of a right lingering shoulder injury, took part in practice on a limited basis. ... Also sitting out practice were DT Jonathan Babineaux (ribs) and WR Roddy White (knee), but both are expected to play against the Giants.

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2019 NFL Draft Big Board: Quinnen Williams, defensive prospects dominate the final top 100

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USA TODAY SPORTS

2019 NFL Draft Big Board: Quinnen Williams, defensive prospects dominate the final top 100

It’s the final countdown.

Here is the final NBC Sports Washington NFL Big Board for 2019. This ranking of the top 100 prospects in the NFL Draft comes from a combination of homework and NFL sources.

Before diving in, some notes…

*The Redskins met with Maryland safety Darnell Savage Jr. Tuesday, sources told yours truly and JP Finlay. Savage is one of the true risers in this class with a 20-40 draft projection. Teams eyeing the free safety include the Colts, Patriots, Chargers and Redskins, per sources.

Of those teams interested in Savage, only the Redskins’ current picks are outside of that 20-40 range. The key word there might be current.

Senior VP of Player Personnel Doug Williams told reporters Monday that there’s a “great possibility” of a trade down from 15 depending on which players remain on the board. The interest in Savage isn’t with the current pick, but if they move down.

*For all the quarterback talk, where the offensive line run begins could drive the first round.

While the Jaguars might select Florida tackle Jawaan Taylor seventh overall, the span to watch is 9-12. Offensive line ranks among needs for these four teams (Bills, Broncos, Bengals, Packers) and several prospects, including Alabama’ Jonah Williams and Oklahoma’s Cody Ford are worthy of consideration in this range.

However, OL isn’t the top priority for any of the four. My latest mock draft had all going with another position. The final debate will come down, in part, to whether the teams think they can address their line needs on Day 2.

The butterfly effect comes with teams selecting 15-23. The Redskins and Panthers (16) would surely focus elsewhere. The Vikings would still have a viable option in NC State center Garrett Bradbury, but the Seahawks (21), Ravens (22) and Texans (23) would probably move in other directions. This scenario also improves the chances that Boston College’s Chris Lindstrom and Texas A&M’s Erik McCoy go in the first.

Ford is considered the top guard prospect, making him an obvious option for the Redskins.

* Mississippi State edge rusher Montez Sweat remains a top 10 prospect on this list, but that’s without a true understanding of his enlarged heart condition. According to a source familiar with the situation, some teams are comfortable with his situation while others removed the athletic freak from their draft board.

Not sure if we can infer there’s a potential slide coming with Sweat declining his invitation to attend the draft. My expectation is he remains in my final mock draft with the Panthers at 16 and Seahawks at 21 as the floor.

*If you missed it, I recently shared league thoughts on the passers. Not to get all indecisive, but at this point, I could see four selected by 17 or two sliding deep into round one. From a draft range perspective, Drew Lock’s feels the largest, stretching from 10 to 32.

*Using some Vegas prop bet lines for the first round, I’d go under on one running back and 2 1/2 wide receivers. Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown is the only receiver I feel good slotting into round one, but D.K. Metcalf, A.J. Brown and N’Keal Harry won’t wait for long on Day 2.

*Make sure to check out the updated two-round NFL mock draft and our look at different 7-round, Redskins-only mock drafts. Paths onetwo and three are just a click away.

NBC Sports Washington’s final 2019 NFL Draft Big Board

1. Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama                                          

2. Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State                                      

3. Ed Oliver, DT, Houston                                           

4. Devin White, LB, LSU                               

5. Josh Allen, OLB, Kentucky         

6. Montez Sweat, DE, Miss. St.                                                                                                 

7. T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa                                       

8. Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma                                 

9. Devin Bush, ILB, Michigan                                      

10. Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson        

11. Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida                                  

12. Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama                                            

13. Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson                          

14. Cody Ford, G/T, Oklahoma                                  

15. Jeffery Simmons, DT, Miss. State                       

16. Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State                                       

17. Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson                                                  

18. Byron Murphy, CB, Washington                                        

19. Brian Burns, DE, Florida State                                            

20. Greedy Williams, CB, LSU                                    

21. DeAndre Baker, CB, Georgia                                              

22. Andre Dillard, OT, Wash. State                                          

23. Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma                                      

24. Johnathan Abram, S, Miss. St.                                            

25. Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame                              

26. Dalton Risner, OL, Kansas State                                        

27. Garrett Bradbury, C, NC State                                            

28. N'Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State  

29. Chris Lindstrom, G, BC                                          

30. Darnell Savage, S, Maryland                                                            

31. A.J. Brown, WR, Mississippi                                 

32. Noah Fant, TE, Iowa                              

33. D.K. Metcalf, WR, Mississippi                                            

34. Erik McCoy, C, Texas A&M                                  

35. Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama                                  

36. Daniel Jones, QB, Duke                                      

37. Drew Lock, QB, Missouri                                          

38. Rock Ya-Sin, CB, Temple                                      

39. Taylor Rapp, S, Washington    

40. Irv Smith, TE, Alabama                                         

41. Kaleb McGary, OT, Washington                                        

42. Nassir Adderley, FS, Delaware                                           

43. Chase Winovich, LB, Michigan                                           

44. Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State                                       

45. Jaylon Ferguson, DE, La. Tech                                           

46. L.J Collier, DE, TCU                                 

47. Juan Thornhill, S, Virginia                                     

48. Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama                                  

49. Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State                                        

50. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S, Florida                                           

51. Miles Sanders, RB, Penn State                                           

52. Oshane Ximines, DE, ODU                                   

53. Dre'Mont Jones, DE/DT, Ohio State                                 

54. Justin Layne, CB, Michigan State                                       

55. Connor McGovern, G, Penn State                                     

56. Riley Ridley, WR, Georgia                                    

57. Julian Love, CB, Notre Dame                              

58. Elgton Jenkins, C, Mississippi State                                   

59. Gerald Willis, DT, Miami                                       

60. Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama                                        

61. Ryan Finley, QB, NC State      

62. Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson                                            

63. David Montgomery, RB, Iowa State                                 

64. Darrell Henderson, RB, Memphis                                      

65. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, WR, Stanford                                

66. Zach Allen, DE, Boston College                                          

67. Lonnie Johnson Jr., CB, Kentucky                                      

68. D'Andre Walker, LB, Georgia                                                      

69. Jachai Polite, LB, Florida                                      

70. Chuma Edoga, T, USC                                           

71. David Long, CB, Michigan                                    

72. Justice Hill, RB, Oklahoma State                                        

73. Amani Oruwariye, CB, Penn State                                     

74. Joe Jackson, DE, Miami                                        

75. Amani Hooker, S, Iowa                                         

76. Yodny Cajuste, T, West Virginia                                         

77. Kahale Warring, TE, San Diego State                                

78. Chuma Edoga, T, USC                                           

79. David Long, CB, Michigan                                    

80. Greg Little, T, Mississippi                                     

81. Trayveon Williams, RB, Texas A&M                                  

82. Charles Omenihu, DL, Texas                                

83. Damian Harris, RB, Alabama       

84. Michael Jordan, G, Ohio State                                           

85. Dawson Knox, TE, Mississippi                                            

86. David Edwards, T, Wisconsin                              

87. Andy Isabella, WR, Umass                                   

88. Dru Samia, G, Oklahoma                                      

89. Christian Miller, LB, Alabama                              

90. Devin Singletary, RB, Florida Atlantic                               

91. Sean Bunting, CB, Central Michigan                                                            

92. Nate Davis, G, Charlotte                                      

93. Mecole Hardman, WR, Georgia                                        

94. Bobby Okereke, LB, Stanford                              

95. Michael Deiter, G, Wisconsin                              

96. Ben Powers, G, Oklahoma                                   

97. Emanuel Hall, WR, Missouri                                   

98. Marvell Tell, S, USC                                

99. Dionte Johnson, WR, Toledo         

100. Terrill Hanks, ILB, New Mexico State      

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The Browns called the Redskins 15 years ago hoping to trade up for Sean Taylor, but the Redskins said 'no'

The Browns called the Redskins 15 years ago hoping to trade up for Sean Taylor, but the Redskins said 'no'

Thanks to his illustrious career at Miami, Sean Taylor caught the eyes of Joe Gibbs and the Redskins heading into the 2004 NFL Draft.

Not surprisingly, though, Washington wasn't the only franchise interested in adding a do-it-all, safety-in-a-linebacker's-body prospect to their defense.

In a terrific look-back at that draft from Sports Illustrated — a draft in which a record six Miami products went in the first 21 picks — you'll find this excerpt:

But at the last minute, the Browns, owners of the No. 7 pick, called asking to trade up. Butch Davis, Cleveland’s coach and EVP, had previously been the head coach at Miami and had recruited all six of these Hurricane prospects out of high school...

[Vinny] Cerrato says the Browns were coming for Taylor. Davis is more diplomatic about it: “It was probably about 60-40 that we would’ve taken Sean [over Winslow],” he says. He wanted to know what it’d cost to get Taylor. But Washington wasn’t budging. “There was no interest whatsoever,” Cerrato says. “We wanted Sean Taylor.”

Cleveland also reportedly contacted the Giants about their fourth overall selection so they could skip the 'Skins entirely, but New York ended up orchestrating their own deal to land Eli Manning.

Fortunately, the Burgundy and Gold stayed in place and got Taylor despite the calls. Often times, trading back in the draft is an attractive option. This time around, however, that option paled in comparison to the opportunity to acquire Taylor.

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