Jones Ready to Go

Lake Forest - After a week off to rest his bruised ribs, RB Thomas Jones appears he will be back in the starting lineup on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.

Thomas Jones put a Pro Bowl first half of the season together with 753 yards on 167 carries and 6 touchdowns, but the workload wore on him as he played through injuries.

The Bears decided to sit Jones against the San Francisco 49ers and saw Cedric Benson and Adrian Peterson produce 174 yards in a 17-9 victory.

With 7-2 Carolina coming to town and Benson out for at least a month with a knee sprain, the Bears need Jones back on the field. The time off helped Jones heal, but he will still have to play through pain.

"It's definitely not sore when you touch it but it's a little uncomfortable but it's going to be that way Sunday," Jones said.

While sitting out last week broke a string of 14 consecutive starts, Jones believes it was the right decision.

"It helped me a lot," said. "If I had taken a pounding on it and reinjured it last week that wouldn't have made much sense but we've got a long stretch right now and I want to be as comfortable as I can for the next seven games."

The Panthers have the second ranked rushing defense in the league and will present a challenge for the Bears fifth rated rushing attack.

Offensive coordinator Ron Turner had to abandoned the game plan last week when it came to passing the ball because of 47 mph winds. This week he will stick to the run even with Carolina's stout rush defense.

"They're very good against the run. We think we can run the ball pretty well, so it's a pretty good match-up," Turner said. "We know every run is not going to be a successful run. We just have to stick with it and keep doing it and try to make the right adjustments as the game goes on and hopefully we can pop a couple runs in there."

Behaving Badly
In light of the Olin Kreutz-Fred Miller brawl, head coach Lovie Smith was asked if he needed to address players' off-day conduct.

"We address that always," Smith said. "There's a standard that we have always. If you look at our record, I think our guys have done a pretty good job with most things. On their off days, most of them are in the community doing something in a positive sense. We'll look more toward that."

Next Stop Canton
Nathan Vasher's jersey and the football he toted 108 yards for the longest return of any kind in NFL history are being sent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Vasher also leads the Bears with four interceptions.

"We call him 'The Interceptor,'" Smith said. "(If) you look back at his history at the University of Texas, he's a great punt returner. It seems like every time he gets his hands on the ball right now, he knows what to do with it. It was a great play."

Working Overtime
Bobby Wade remains the Bears' punt returner despite losing three fumbles last week.

"He misjudged one ball," Smith said. "The other problems he had were just ball security. Bobby's our returner. He'll put in more time this week and get better at it."

Wade stayed after practice Wednesday inside the Walter Payton Center to field punts from kicker Robbie Gould, as did Rashied Davis, who would handle punts if Wade doesn't.

"It's just about focus and going back to the fundamentals, squeezing the ball high and tight and going about my everyday work," Wade said. "Our team is playing so well, and you don't want to be a weak link on your team. Last week I was definitely a part of that."

Health Beat
WR Bernard Berrian has not been ruled out for the first time since having surgery on his thumb. He's unable to catch the ball with two hands at this point with a soft cast on his right hand and is doubtful on the injury report.

DL Israel Idonije (shoulder) and RT Fred Miller (jaw) are questionable. C Olin Kreutz, G Ruben Brown (pectoral) and CB Nathan Vasher (ill) all missed practice on Wednesday, but are listed as probable and expected to start vs. Carolina.

Scout.com contributed to this report.


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