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Snelling sitting atop Falcons' depth chart
turner pic
Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner (33) breaks away from Washington Redskins' London Fletcher in the first quarter of a game Sunday, Nov. 8 in Atlanta. - photo by Associated Press

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Michael Turner doesn't agree with speculation he could miss weeks with his sprained ankle.

Turner said Wednesday he hasn't even given up on the idea he could return for the Atlanta Falcons' game at the New York Giants on Sunday.

Turner injured his right ankle in last week's loss at Carolina. He had nine carries for 111 yards before the injury, giving him three straight games with more than 100 yards rushing.

Turner wore a walking boot on his right foot on Wednesday and didn't practice.

"It's only Wednesday. We still have time," he said.

"I'm a little stiff here and there but I'm loosening it up and rehabbing it and doing everything I can to get back as soon as possible," he said.

Turner shook his head when it was suggested similar high ankle sprains could force players to miss six weeks.

"I've never been out six weeks with an ankle sprain," he said. "I don't plan on it being that long. I'll try to get back as soon as I can."

Turner has 831 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns this season after he was second in the league with 1,699 yards rushing and a team-record 17 touchdowns in 2008. He was an AP All-Pro selection and Pro Bowl player following his breakout season.

Coach Mike Smith said Turner has "made a lot of strides" since Sunday.

"He's been working real hard in the training room to get back as quick as he can," Smith said. "We're hoping he will continue to progress."

Smith called Turner "day to day" in a telephone interview with Giants reporters. He used the same term to describe Norwood's status before Norwood missed four straight games.

Turner's injury leaves Jason Snelling in position to possibly make his first start of the season. Snelling had career-high totals with 18 carries for 61 yards with his first touchdown of the season against Carolina.

"I'm going to do everything I need to do to be able to carry that load," Snelling said.

Snelling, a third-year player from Virginia, has filled in at running back and fullback. He didn't have more than seven carries in a game this season before taking over for Turner last week.

Smith said seeing Snelling make 18 carries and add three catches for 32 yards against the Panthers was "very reassuring."

"He was able to hold up in that situation and if called upon I know that Jason will do a good job for us," Smith said.

Turner's usual top backup, Jerious Norwood, has missed four straight games with a hip flexor injury.

Norwood ran but did not participate in team drills on Wednesday. Smith said it was the first time Norwood ran on consecutive days.

"We're anxious to see if we can get him out here tomorrow," Smith said.

Norwood said he said he may not know his status for Sunday until late in the week.

Snelling (5-11, 223) is smaller than the 244-pound Turner, but he is strong enough to play behind starting fullback Ovie Mughelli.

Turner described Snelling as "a downhill runner."

"He likes contact, takes on contact," Turner said. "He's kind of a big back but he still has some shiftiness to him. He's a good football player. He'll be able to do the job if he's in there."

Snelling's first start of the season would come in a high-pressure situation.

The Falcons (5-4) have lost three of four after a 4-1 start. The game against the Giants (5-4) could be important in NFC tiebreakers for playoff positions.

The Falcons may lean on Snelling to take the lead in a rushing attack that ranks ninth in the NFL with its average of 126.1 yards per game.

"Certainly we'd love to have Mike go," said quarterback Matt Ryan. "Everybody knows what he means to this team, but we've had some guys step up and play well at the running back position. Jason Snelling has come in and played in a number of different roles in a number of different games. He played well and moved the ball well for us running it and caught the ball out of the backfield."

If Turner and Norwood can't play, Snelling's backup would be Aaron Stecker, who has only two carries for 6 yards in two games.