More Than Words

Lake Forest - Thomas Jones did his best to avoid talking to the media during last month's mini-camp, but Wednesday he decided it was time for a chat.

Following the team's first of 13 Organized Team Activities, Jones stopped to talk with a group of reporters.

The line of questioning centered around the Bears decision to use the fourth pick in the draft on a running back.

"They said that we may end up drafting a running back, he may be the best player at that position, and that's fine," Jones said. "They make the decisions and I play football."

The player Jones referenced is Cedric Benson, who has his sights set on taking the starting job away from the incumbent.

"I've been in this situation before. High school, college, it's just part of the game," Benson said. "You always run into talent and you just make sure to prepare and make the best of it."

Jones knows this situation all too well. Stints in Arizona and Tampa Bay were defined by sharing carries, which is why he signed a four-year $10 million deal with Chicago.

Despite already having Anthony Thomas on the roster, Jones saw an opportunity to be the unquestioned starter.

The five-foot-10, 220-pounder led the team in rushing, receptions and touchdowns without much of a supporting cast.

Despite the pending battle with Benson, Jones sees a chance to better his numbers because of off-season additions and healthy teammates.

"I was a very productive player last year considering the situation," he said. "And I look for great things for this season."

In Ron Turner's run oriented offense there may be room for two running backs. Jones has the speed and ability to catch the ball, while Benson offers a power option.

"From what I've seen so far, we have different styles," Jones said. "Any time you have another guy who can come in the game and have some ability to make guys miss and has been productive in college, it's definitely a good thing for the offense and a good thing for the team."

Jones is in the awkward position of trying to help Benson with the offense and at the same time competing with him for playing time. However, training your replacement has become the way of the NFL in the salary cap era.

Although Jones has the upper hand because of his experience, the true test will be who tops the depth chart after the team breaks camp.

"I've told the players right now the depth chart doesn't really mean a lot as long as you're getting plays to show what you can do," said head coach Lovie Smith "That's all we're trying to do. Thomas knows the situation and he knows that it's a long year, he and Cedric. We need both running backs and even more."

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