Atlanta Falcons' Michael Turner is tackled by Indianapolis Colts' David Caldwell during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 6, 2011, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
FLOWERY BRANCH -- Mike Smith says he's looking to find more help for Michael Turner in the Falcons' running game.
The plan worked last week, when it was easy to rest Turner in Atlanta's lopsided 31-7 win at Indianapolis. Turner had less than half of Atlanta's 41 carries.
By comparison, Turner had all but one of the carries given to running backs in the Falcons' previous game, a win over Detroit.
Smith's new plan to spread out the carries will be tested in this week's important game against New Orleans with first place in the NFC South on the line.
Turner said Wednesday he'd like a heavy load of carries.
Smith said the workload will be determined by the "feel of the game."
Smith said he decided in the Falcons' bye week between the wins over the Lions and Colts to take some of the load off Turner. Smith said he and his assistant coaches decided that rookie backup Jacquizz Rodgers could be trusted with a more important role.
"That was something that through our evaluation in our bye week we saw that we needed to make sure that we felt comfortable with Jacquizz in basically all phases, not just only as a third-down or a change-of-pace back," Smith said.
"He's proven that he can run the ball from all of our personnel groupings. He has a much better understanding than when he got here in regards to his protection responsibilities. Jacquizz is becoming the player we envisioned that he would be when we drafted him. He's been a great addition and through the second half of the season, he's another weapon that we'll be able to put out there on the field for our offense."
Turner had 19 carries for 71 yards and a touchdown against the Colts, modest totals by his standards.
Rodgers and Jason Snelling combined for 18 carries for 59 yards. Rodgers' 10 carries for 44 yards were his high totals for the season.
Turner didn't sound convinced the distribution of carries in the easy win over the Colts would set the pace for the second half of the season.
"You know, we pretty much had the game in control last week," he said. "It's no need for anything fluky to happen out there and it also gave us a chance for Jacquizz and Snelling to get some work, too, and show what they have. It works good on my part. I'm still fresh for the next game and we got the W. That's what matters."
Turner has had four games with more than 20 carries this season, including back-to-back games with 27 carries against Carolina and Detroit. He has 692 yards rushing with seven touchdowns.