This benign side of Turner is only sustainable when he keeps his arms and chest covered. He bench-pressed 406 pounds in college, and combine scouts, misled by a report that Turner ran only a 4.68-second 40 in college, shook their watches in '91 when he ran a 4.48 for them—despite stumbling at the start. And after noting his fierce demeanor in drills, the scouts advised their pro clients to shake open their checkbooks. The Browns did, awarding Turner a $3.15 million signing bonus.
"The one word I would use to describe Eric is intense," says his friend and college dorm mate, Roman Phifer, now a linebacker for the Los Angeles Rams. "It's almost like a mean streak comes over him when he competes."
That mean streak is what the Browns want to nurture in Turner; but they don't want him to forget the name of his position, either—safety. "He can be a dominant, fierce tackier," says defensive coordinator Nick Saban, "but he needs to learn when to take those shots and when not to take a chance."
Turner knows what the Browns want, and he is determined to give it to them. Last year he picked the brain of former Brown cornerback Frank Minnifield, who would analyze receivers' tendencies with a laptop computer. Says Turner, "If I see something in somebody's game that I like, I want to incorporate that in my game so I can take it to another level."
Runners and receivers who have already been leveled by Turner can only shudder at the thought. If the Browns' Terminator continues to improve, the ranks of those who don't remember the past could increase dramatically.