Mike Smith: Turner will be feature back, on a “pitch count”

AP

With decreasing effectiveness and a $5 million salary, Falcons running back Michael Turner could theoretically be a candidate for release this offseason.

Speaking Saturday at the Scouting Combine, Falcons coach Mike Smith indicated Turner will be back with the team.

“We want to keep [Michael] as our feature back, but we need to make sure we some of the other guys carries as well,” Smith said.

Jacquizz Rodgers will be a bigger part of the offense in 2012. Jason Snelling is a free agent, so the Falcons will look to add another back. Smith made it clear Turner will stick around, he just isn’t likely to top 300 carries again.

“I think the thing we have to do as Michael gets a little older is to start putting him on a pitch count in terms of the numbers of carries,” Smith said.