Briggs & Jones Not in Attendance

The Bears optimism turned to reality on Monday, when neither Lance Briggs nor Thomas Jones showed up for a team meeting to learn Monday's OTA was cancelled. The next time either will be on the field with the team remains uncertain.

The groundwork for a major confrontation is being setup by Briggs and Jones skipping voluntary workouts. For their actions, Coach Lovie Smith already demoted each to second string, a move general manger Jerry Angelo supported.

Now Angelo is going to be the one deciding what to do about the situation. Briggs is in the final year of his rookie contract and will be an unrestricted free agent at season's end. Jones has two years left on his free agent contract, which will pay him $2.25 million in 2006 and 2007.

There has been no progress on negotiations with Briggs since before the draft. The team considered trading Jones heading into the draft, but may have to reexamine the possibility.

The chances of either Briggs or Jones working with the team at Halas Hall this month appear slim. The next date to keep an eye on could become July 26, that's when players are due to report to training camp.

Lofty Goals
With Thomas Jones keeping quiet during the team's three-day mini-camp, Cedric Benson took the opportunity to add some fuel to the fire.

Despite rushing for just 272 yards as a rookie, Benson wouldn't rule out going over the 1,000, 1,200, 1,500 or 1,700-yard mark this season.

"We would like to think that our tailback will get those type of yards," Coach Lovie Smith said. "We have three excellent tailbacks and I think if you asked all three of them they would all say the same thing.

"They're expecting a big season with a great offensive line coming back. We have all of our guys coming back. There's no reason to think that we can't run the football because that's what we do for a living. Hopefully our running backs are thinking that way."

After missing training camp and the preseason because of a contract dispute with the Bears, Benson ruffled some feathers when he said he could be ready to start by Week 2. Only time will tell if he's improved as a prognosticator over the last year.

Catching On
The Bears signed wide receiver C.J. Fayton Monday. The six-foot-2, 205-pounder is an undrafted rookie free agent out of Tennessee.

In four seasons with the Volunteers, Fayton caught 74 balls for 981 and 7 touchdowns.

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