Running with Jones

Chicago running back Thomas Jones, the NFC's fifth-leading rusher, talks Bears and 49ers and getting a new start in the Windy City.

Q: Are you enjoying having a bigger role in the offense this year in Chicago?

Jones: Yeah, I like this offense. I've been given the opportunity to get the ball and showcase my ability so I definitely like being here.

Q: Is this what you envisioned when you were drafted in 2000?

Jones: Yeah, definitely. Arizona just wasn't the situation or the team for me. It wasn't for a lot of guys. Garrison Hearst went to Arizona and it didn't end up for him. Simeon Rice went there and the lists of names go on as far as guys who have been to Arizona and then gone on somewhere else and been successful. So I think I'm just another guy to add on to that list.

Q: Is it phyisically demanding to be the main offensive weapon in Chicago?

Jones: No, not really. Once you have been in that position you know how that feels. Physically I'm in great shape. I work out very hard during the week and I practice really hard so I feel good.

Q: How tough has the Chicago media been with you guys struggling?

Jones: It's the NFL and there are a lot of things you have to do as a player and as a starter. So I haven't been surprised at all.

Q: Did your resurgence begin last year when you were with Tampa Bay?

Jones: I did the exact same work ut program but it was just a better team and a better situation and a better organization. I felt like a football player again. In Arizona I felt like it was more of a business situation than an actual football thing. The locker room, the weight room, everything. It felt like I was a businessman and not a football player. Finally when I went to Tampa I felt that life and that love for football again.

Q: Why have you guys been having so much trouble putting the ball in the end zone this year?

Jones: We had a lot of penalties and we've had a touchdown called back. We haven't been able to catch many breaks. We've had a couple of sacks at certain times that we didn't need. In each game we've lost we've made a lot of mistakes which have hurt ourselves.

Q: What's your feeling about changing quarterbacks this week?

Jones: It's difficult because we started the season with one quarterback and then all the sudden he gets hurt and one guy steps up and then couple weeks later another guy steps in. It's tough because you have to adjust to how that quarterback plays, but, you know, the NFL is about adjustments and everyone is professional and you have to think of it like that.

Q: What your feeling about going against the 49ers defensive line and tackle Bryant Young?

Jones: I played against Bryant Young when I was in Arizona. He's a great player. He's a big guy. He's strong and he's fast. They have some good players on their defense.

Q: What's this about your pushup regimen?

Jones: Yeah, I've always done that since I was a kid. It's a mental thing. Of course I'm old enough now so I can work out. When I was a kid I couldn't work out. But now I do them because if I'm tired and do them even though I don't want to do them it makes me mentally tougher. Each night I do anywhere from 150-200.

Q: Do you feel that rookie quarterback Craig Krenzel is ready to step in as a starter at this level?

Jones: Yeah, I think he's ready. He came in last week and made some good plays early in the game. That was his first time being in a real game situation. Tampa Bay had a pass rush defense and he's been up against a pretty good defense so I think he's ready to play.

Q: What's it been like playing for Lovie Smith?

Jones: It's been great. He has a good attitude and he's a positive coach. It's been great playing for him.

Q: Are you starting to feel like a football player again?

Jones: Yeah it's the Chicago Bears. It's that tradition. Fans love the game. They support the team. Everyone loves the Chicago Bears. It makes you proud to go out and play for Chicago and help them win and be productive. I didn't feel that in Arizona at all.

Q: Do you ever feel like you're running in the shadow of Walter Payton?

Jones: Well, you know every day I walk up and down (Halas Hall) and see the great running backs that have played here. You know, I feel like there is a little bit of responsibility to play up to the standards of those guys. I use that as an incentive tool.

Q: What's your relationship like with Cowboys running back Julius Jones?

Jones: My brother is my best friend. We have a great relationship. I talk to him almost every day. He's anxious to get back out there and play. He had an injury earlier this season. He'll be back in the next couple of weeks. He's looking forward to coming out and showing what he can do, too.


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