FLOWERY BRANCH — Former Falcons running back Michael “The Burner” Turner was on hand at training camp to chat with the fans and watch practice Saturday.
Turner started his career with the Chargers as a backup to LaDainian Tomlinson. Falcons rookie running back Bijan Robinson has been compared with Tomlinson, who is a Pro Football Hall of Famer who rushed for 13,684 yards and caught 624 passes over his illustrious career.
“Very dynamic running back,” Turner told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I played with LaDainian Tomlinson. I see some similarities with the slashing and catching out of the backfield and doing things like that. So, hopefully he can be half as good as LaDainian. He’s got a bright future ahead of him.”
Turner played with the Chargers from 2004-07. He signed with the Falcons in free agency in 2008 and was one of the pillars of the offense until 2012. He was on four playoff teams including the 2012 team that went to the NFC Championship game.
He gave an update on his post-football career.
“Just enjoying the retirement life, spending time with the family and things like that,” Turner said. “I’m doing this Falcons stuff here and there. I’m still keeping my head around here and keeping up with the team. I’m still around. I’m still around Atlanta.”
He stays in contact with some of former teammates, such as Jerious Norwood, Ovie Mughelli, Michael Jenkins, Harry Douglas and Roddy White.
“We always run into each other,” Turner said. “We always keep in touch. It was a tight bond. We did something special here. So, yeah we keep in touch.”
Turner rushed for 6,081 yards and 60 touchdowns in five seasons with the Falcons. He was named to two Pro Bowls and was named All-Pro in 2008.
The 2012 team just missed making it to the Super Bowl, losing to the 49ers in heartbreaking fashion. The 2010 team, which was the No. 1 seed in the NFC, was upset in the divisional round by the Packers.
“Yeah, it was heartbreaking that we could never get to the Super Bowl,” Turner said. “It was heartbreaking that we couldn’t win one. But we started a nice foundation here, and hopefully these guys can keep going and do something special this year.”