Jauron Has Talent at His Disposal

The Bears had various problems last year on their way to a 5-11 record, but one of the biggest was a lack of team depth. In 2000 season ending injuries to Marcus Robinson and Bobby Engram hampered the Bears offense. Macey Brooks, D'Wayne Bates, Dez White and Marty Booker couldn't pick up the slack their teammates absence created.

However, what was a weakness a year ago has become a strength this season. When Robinson went down against Cincinnati, Chicago was much better equipped to handle the loss of their top wideout. Booker, who was having a solid year before Robinson went down with 19 receptions two of which went for touchdowns through four games, has increased his production since his counterpart went down with 45 catches. White started the season with six receptions through the first four games. But, in the last six games White has picked up his level of play making 27 grabs including seven the game Robinson was hurt.

James Allen was struggling early in the year and was demoted, but instead of complaining he made the best of situation.

"James is very much a pro," Jauron said. "He understands the game. He's been around it just long enough now I think to really understand what its about and he knew then at the time the switch was made he knew that he was a critical factor to our success and he certainly still knows it now.

"He's performed well every time he's played in a game and you know he's played a critical role in a number of our games just not yesterday. Yesterday the burden of the run game was thrown back on his shoulders and once again he stepped up and did what we expected him to do. But, really another guy that fits into the team mode that is developing here."

The A-Train was named the starter in week seven and carried the Bears running attack averaging 4.3 yards per carry, until a hamstring pull slowed the rookie. However, Jauron had the luxury of having a former 1,000-yard rusher behind Thomas on the depth chart.

"We're a better team. We're deeper, we're faster and so the guys that do get plugged in they are good," Jauron said. "We know James Allen is a very good player he rushed for 1200 yards a year ago on a team that really wasn't as good as this football team."

Allen started against Minnesota and took advantage of a weak Viking defense for 107 yards on 27 carries. If Thomas does not improve during the week then Jauron can rest him and go back to Allen against the Lions.

Allen wasn't the only running back to step up against the Vikings. Leon Johnson got his first two carries of the season and made an immediate impact. On his first run from scrimmage he turned a 3rd and one situation into a first goal with a 34-yard scamper. Two plays later he scored his first touchdown in two years.

"Leon is a tremendous athlete," Jauron said. "You know our personnel people liked him of course and Mike Sweatman was very aware of him, as was Todd Haley they had him (with the Jets), so he was not an unknown to us."

Johnson missed two years with a serious knee injury that nearly ended his career.

"The fact that he had the injury I think obviously has kept him out for this length of time," Jauron said. "But, we felt like he was healthy we had word that he was worked him out. You know and you know him too he's a wonderful guy. He's a real team player. He plays our coverage teams he plays our return teams and as you saw yesterday he's very versatile and very athletic and I believe he'll just get better as he gets more and more back into it."

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