Turner taps into his old mind-set

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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. --- Michael Turner did some self-scouting last week to find out why he wasn't breaking off big runs for the Atlanta Falcons.

What was wrong with the Pro Bowl running back?

"I just had to run with the same determination I had last year," Turner said Thursday. "Run with kind of a chip on my shoulder."

After rushing 20 times for 151 yards and one touchdown in a Week 8 loss at New Orleans, Turner is feeling confident again. The sixth-year NFL veteran was noticeably more upbeat in the locker room than he seemed the previous two weeks after totaling 80 yards on 31 carries.

"It's been pretty frustrating because you work hard every week and you want to see the results," Turner said. "You go back and say, 'What am I doing wrong? What am I doing differently?' The touchdowns have been there. I just had to get the big running plays in."

Scoring has come easy for Turner, who has eight rushing touchdowns.

Atlanta (4-3) could find it tough to getting into the end zone Sunday against Washington (2-5), particularly considering that Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has thrown seven interceptions over the past three games.

The Redskins have the NFC's toughest scoring defense and are fifth overall in allowing an average of 17.6 points.

Turner's biggest gains against the Saints covered 37, 24 and 22 yards, but just one of them resulted in a touchdown. In his first season with the Falcons last season, Turner gained 1,699 yards and scored 17 TDs. Through seven games this year he has 554 yards. After his outing vs. the Saints, Turner is now averaging 4 yards per carry.

Last season, the rushing attack finished second overall, but now it ranks 17th with 111 yards per game.

Hip injuries and a concussion have slowed No. 2 running back Jerious Norwood, who will miss his third game in a row this week. Atlanta's offensive line also hasn't done as good a job as last year.

"We've been evaluating and we've been trying to tweak it and get the running game going," coach Mike Smith said.


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