Interview with Chargers RB Michael Turner

Now that Jesse Chatman has been released, the Chargers will turn to Michael Turner as their immediate back-up behind all-world starter LaDainian Tomlinson. Even though Turner was used sparingly last season as a rookie out of Northern Illinois, he showed the coaches enough throughout the course of the season to earn their confidence.

Most helpful in that cause was Michael Turner's performance in the 2004 season finale against the Chiefs. He got to start the game as Tomlinson and Chatman rested for the playoffs, and responded by running for 87 yards on only 15 carries, adding four receptions for good measure. Not only did that showing pad his stat line, but his confidence level as well.

"It gave me a lot of confidence," admitted Turner. "It let me know I can play in this league, and it gave me a chance to show the coaches what I can do."

Turner will get many more chances to show what he can do this season, as he figures to pick up many of the touches that Chatman will no longer be getting. Rookie sensation Darren Sproles, however, figures to factor in as well, so Turner's role has yet to be defined.

Whatever that role may be, Turner will be ready to go when called upon.

"I haven't really thought about it, actually," said Turner of his role in the offense after the personnel shakeup. "It doesn't really matter what my role is, as long as I'm ready to play when my number is called."

Clubhouse leaders such as Tomlinson and Lorenzo Neal have been helping Turner prepare for his increasing offensive responsibilities. And while Turner cites their tutelage as cause for his continued development, he knows he must continue to push himself if he hopes to make the most of all of his opportunities.

"I've been working in the program with the team, so I've been working out down in San Diego," said Turner of his offseason regimen. "I was back at home, working out with some of my old friends from high school and college (just before camp began)."

One would expect that the feel around Chargers Park is much different this year than last. After all, the Chargers are now defending division champions as opposed to perennial laughing stocks. Turner pointed out that the team was ultra-confident even at last year's camp.

According to the running back, the victories didn't spark the winning attitude; instead the attitude brought them the victories.

"We really had the winning attitude last year," recalled Turner. "We came in thinking we had a pretty good team. Last year we wanted to prove people wrong, this year we want to prove it wasn't a fluke. We have a lot of the same guys coming back for another year together, so I think we'll be even better this year."

If the team is better this year, Turner will have a lot to do with it. He is the team's most physical and punishing back, and will be heavily utilized as such. And if Chargers fans liked what they saw out of Jesse Chatman in spot duty last season, just wait until they see what Michael Turner, "The Burner", can really do.

Michael Lombardo can be reached at

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