Thomas Deserves Starting Nod

The Bears running game began to show signs of life against the Arizona Cardinals. The combination of James Allen rushed for 137 yards. During the week leading up to the game against the Bengals Dick Jauron adamantly said Allen was the starter, but Thomas would see his playing time increase.

However, Thomas' performance against Cincinnati should force the Bears head coach to reconsider his depth chart. The "A-Train" rushed for 188 yards on 22 carries including runs of 46, 23, 21 and 16 yards. He averaged over 8.5 yards per carry on his way to gaining 188 yards, which is a Bears rookie record for rushing yards in a single game.

Thomas and Allen alternated series at running back throughout the first three quarters of the game. Allen was supposed to be in on Chicago's first series in the fourth quarter, but Thomas was in the backfield. He was in on the Bears last three series, which could point to a change in philosophy.

One possible scenario for Jauron would be to start Thomas and then use Allen as a third down back. Allen has proven to have good hands coming out of the backfield and could keep Allen involved in the offense. With the effort Thomas now has 312 yards and two touchdowns on the season. He is averaging over 6.5 yards per carry.

Robinson injury shows receiver depth:
In recent seasons, the loss of wide receiver Marcus Robinson would be considered the type of tough break which could send the Bears into a complete tailspin.

Perhaps it's the 4-1 record, or the way they gave a complete team effort in a 24-0 win Sunday over Cincinnati, but the Bears are convinced they can continue winning even if Robinson is lost for a long period of time.

``In the past, we had guys get hurt and we struggled when other guys were in there,'' said Bears quarterback Jim Miller. ``I think we're at the point where guys can step in there and play.''

Robinson said he had the left leg X-rayed it showed no bone damage. However, he will undergo an MRI to determine potential ligament damage.

``We won't know until tomorrow, but at this point I guess it doesn't look good even in the best case scenario,'' Bears coach Dick Jauron said.

Pressed further on Robinson's condition, Jauron added, ``I'm not a doctor, but the terms they used don't sound too good.''

Robinson was struck near the sidelines by both safety Darryl Williams and linebacker Brian Simmons at the end of a 23-yard pass play.

``When I fell down, I knew something was wrong,'' said Robinson, who was told by team medical personnel to get up. ``When I stood up, I was like, `no, something is definitely wrong.' ''

Robinson missed five games last season with ankle and back injuries. He missed the preseason following back surgery on July 27.

He had five catches for 50 yards before leaving the field on a golf cart. Without him in the lineup, the Bears still worked the passing game with Marty Booker catching six for 76 yards and rookie David Terrell producing 91 yards on seven receptions.

Replacing Robinson's exact impact on the Bears' offense won't be easy because his ability to go deep not only gives the Bears a home run threat, but also opens routes underneath. Bears wideouts noticed defenders cheating up immediately after Robinson left the game.

Booker said he can be a deep threat even though he has been used mostly at flanker since being drafted three years ago.

``I feel I have the speed to get deep,'' Booker said. ``It's just a matter of throwing the ball deep to me if they want to.''

Terrell may be used in Robinson's position. He showed ability to get downfield Sunday.

``David is ready,'' Miller said. ``I think Marty has really picked up his game. Dez White obviously is going to get another opportunity. David is going to be more in the mix.''

Three weeks ago Terrell said he thought he should be starting. Nothing has changed.

``I wanted to be a starter even when Marcus was in,'' he said. ``I know what I've got to do when I get in a game and that's make something happen. And I'm getting the opportunity right now.''

Double duty:
R.W. McQuarters fielded all punt returns for the Bears, while Autry Detson and Leon Johnson were back on the only kickoff return of the game.

The kicking game remained strong for Chicago. Despite Paul Edinger's 43-yard miss he has hit on 7/10 on field goals this season. All three of his misses have come from 40-plus yards and been wide left. Brad Maynard had a punt downed at the opponents' one-yard line for a second consecutive week.

Near perfect:
The Bears shutout was their first since October 3, 1993 against the Atlanta Falcons. The defensive turnaround from last year continues. Chicago has given up just 43 points through five games, which is an average of 8.6 per game. At the same point last year the Bears had given up 130 points.

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