Top 50 Falcons: No. 35, Michael Turner

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is counting down the Top 50 players in Atlanta Falcons history during the franchise’s 50th anniversary season. No. 35 is running back Michael Turner.

Years played for Falcons: Michael Turner’s five seasons in Atlanta (2008-12) were some of the most powerful and productive years a running back has ever seen in a Falcons jersey. Signing with Atlanta after four years serving as a backup to future Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson, Turner “The Burner” erupted onto the scene and helped spark the franchise’s best five-year run (56-24) in history.

Michael Turner (33) had 6,081 rushing yards and a franchise-record 60 touchdowns in his five years in the Atlanta. (Curtis Compton / AJC)

Jersey No.: 33

His impact on the team: Known for his tree-trunk legs which were nearly impossible to wrap up, the 5-foot-10, 247-pound bowling ball was named All-Pro and to the Pro Bowl in 2008 and 2010. Turner totaled 6,081 rushing yards and a franchise-record 60 touchdowns in his five years in the Atlanta. In his first career-game as a Falcon, Turner ran for a franchise record 220 yards and would finish the season with 1,699 yards, good for third best in Falcon history. His 17 rushing touchdowns that year still stands as a franchise record. Over his five years in Atlanta, Turner rushed for over 100 yards 27 times. In those 27 games the Falcons went 24-3. The Burner was a part of four playoff teams and two division championship teams. On March 1, 2013, Turner was released by the Falcons after failing a physical, a move which saved the team $6.9 million in cap space. Since releasing the then 30-year-old running back, Atlanta has gone just 16-25.

On working his way back from injury in 2010: “I don’t want to be one of those guys who people sit around the barbershop and say ‘oh yeah, remember him, he had that one great year, then he was gone.’ Not me. I want one of those careers that people really remember, like ‘wow, he was good.’”

On being released by the Falcons: “I want to thank the Atlanta Falcons for the opportunity to be a part of something great. We accomplished a lot during my time here and I will always cherish the memories and relationships I made. I want to thank Mr. Blank for all he’s done for me and my career. He’s a great owner and an even better philanthropist. This is a tough business but I understand its nature and respect the process.”

Where he is now: Turner, now 33 and living in Gwinnett County, never played another down in the NFL after being released by the Falcons.

The countdown to the Top 50 players in Falcons history runs through the end of the season.

Top 50 Falcons Countdown

50: Chuck Smith

49: Michael Haynes

48: Jonathan Babineaux

47: John Zook

46: Ken Reaves

45: Lynn Cain

44: Justin Blalock

43: Bobby Butler

42: Tim Mazzetti

41: Buddy Curry

40: Scott Case

39: Jeff Merrow

38: Elbert Shelley

37: Matt Bryant

36: Alge Crumpler

35: Michael Turner

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