Counting Down the Top 25 Players in the NFC South: No. 10, Michael Turner

Knox Bardeen@knoxbardeenNFC South Lead WriterJuly 20, 2012

Michael Turner has tallied 300 or more carries in three of his four seasons in Atlanta.
Michael Turner has tallied 300 or more carries in three of his four seasons in Atlanta.Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

Welcome back to “Counting Down the Top 25 Players in the NFC South.” To see the entire list as it unfolds, scroll down to the bottom of this page. To see the rules and ranking criteria, click here.

Michael Turner rushed for 1,340 yards and 11 touchdowns on 301 carries last season to lead the NFC in rushing and finish No. 3 in yards in the NFL.

Turner's output declined slightly in the second half as he went from 692 yards rushing in the first half of the season to 638 in the second. He also scored just four touchdowns in his final eight games. Turner battled a groin injury during the second half and also missed his normal fullback Ovie Mughelli, who lost his season to a knee injury.

Even though Turner fought his injury, he never missed a game and still topped the NFC in rushing and the NFL in explosive plays of 15 yards or more, according to ProFootballFocus.

The Falcons' coaching staff has hinted to limiting Turner's carries in 2012, but Turner laughed that off.

"I don't know," said Turner during Atlanta's organized team activities. "They say that every year."

Unless Turner is stricken with an injury in 2012, expect his output to look very similar to years past, even with Dirk Koetter's new offensive scheme in Atlanta.

You just don't move away from a proven workhorse like Turner when he's still producing.

The 2012 Bleacher Report Top 25 Players in the NFC South List

10. Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta Falcons

11. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons

12. DeAngelo Williams, RB, Carolina Panthers

13. Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina Panthers

14. Marques Colston, WR, New Orleans Saints

15. Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

16. Tony Gonzalez, TE, Atlanta Falcons

17. James Anderson, LB, Carolina Panthers

18. Jahri Evans, OG, New Orleans Saints

19. Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Atlanta Falcons

20. Jon Beason, LB, Carolina Panthers

21. John Abraham, DE, Atlanta Falcons

22. Charles Johnson, DE, Carolina Panthers

23. Adrian Clayborn, DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

24. Curtis Lofton, LB, New Orleans Saints

25. Josh Freeman, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Top 25 List (by team)

Carolina Panthers: 5

Atlanta Falcons:  5

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 3

New Orleans Saints: 3

Top 25 List (by position)

LB: 4

DE: 3

WR: 3

RB: 3

OL: 1

QB: 1

TE: 1