Bears welcome tough guy Denson

LAKE FOREST _ Running back Autry Denson may not have the speed or size of Skip Hicks, but the Bears like something else about the former Notre Dame star.


``I call him a warrior,'' said Bears running backs coach Earle Mosley. ``He's one tough, goal-driven individual.``He's a War Daddy.''

Denson practiced with the Bears for the first time Thursday after being signed off waivers Wednesday when Hicks was released.

Denson gives away almost 30 pounds and great speed to Hicks, who signed Thursday with Tennessee. The Bears lack a real ``burner'' in their backfield stable that now included Denson, Anthony ``A-Train'' Thomas and starter James Allen.

``We won't have anybody with the speed of Skip in our backfield,'' Jauron said. ``I don't know that Autry can run like that, but I haven't seen many people who can run like that.

``The problem with Skip was just the inconsistency; would you get it from him on that day?''

Denson returns kicks and also covers on special teams. Hicks, who was 10th in the NFL in preseason in rushing yards, could return kicks, but was regarded as a weak blocker and did not cover kicks.

The Bears likely would have left Hicks inactive on many Sundays, according to coach Dick Jauron, in order to activate more players who would help in all areas.

``The third running back has to be a special teams player,'' said Bears general manager Jerry Angelo. ``We felt that Autry probably offered us more in that area. ``He was a kickoff returner, a good cover guy and we felt that he could probably do more without the ball than what Skip could.''

Mosley related a story how Denson once broke his hand in a game, had a pin stuck into it and practiced all week before playing the following game.

``If you can walk, you can play,'' Denson said. ``That's what I was always told. So no matter what, at all costs, I'm trying to line up on the field.''

Denson may be active for Sunday's game despite a lack of knowledge of the offense based largely on his special teams skills.

Thomas is healthy enough to play this week after a bone bruise kept him out of the final three preseason games.

``There's some risk to it,'' admitted Angelo, who added, ``(Thomas) looks fine, is totally up to speed, now.''

Also on Thursday, the Bears completed their practice squad by signing tight end Adam Young, who spent last season on the New York Giants' practice squad.

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