Studs of the Week: Jones & Benson

It's hard to imagine that the two of them are very good friends, but on Sunday, tailbacks Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson looked just as comfortable together as Amos `n Andy. Jones broke the century mark for the first time this season, and Benson scored his first two NFL touchdowns. They are the Bear Report Studs of the Week.

The tailback situation in Chicago was quite the soap opera for a while there. As the team arrived in Bourbonnais for training camp, speculation was rampant that second-year man Cedric Benson would supplant Thomas Jones as the starter. Jones was coming off a career season in which he ran for 1,335 yards and nine touchdowns, but his decision to skip some voluntary workouts at Halas Hall had the coaching staff questioning his priorities.

But just as Jones injured his hamstring and, for all intents and purposes, moved Benson atop the depth chart unchallenged, Benson then sprained his shoulder and opened the door for Jones to get his gig back. It's never a bad idea to have two quality running backs in this league, but more and more, this was shaping up to be a this-guy-or-that-guy situation. The locker room was fully behind Jones, and Benson was playing the role of unhappy outsider.

Fast forward a few weeks, and the Bears appear to have one of the more potent rushing attacks in the NFL once again. After a slow start through the first three games of the season - including a curious DNP for Benson in Week 3 at Minnesota - the two talented tailbacks are providing a killer one-two punch on the ground. Considering how well Rex Grossman and the passing game have moved the ball in 2006, suddenly, the Bears are arguably the most balanced offensive team in football.

This past Sunday against Buffalo was about as good as it gets. Jones set `em up with 109 yards on 22 carries, and then Benson knocked `em down with 48 yards on 14 carries and a pair of TDs, the first of his career. Pehaps most importantly for Bears fans, Jones was there to greet and congratulate Benson as he trotted back to the sideline after hitting paydirt.

The Bears are 5-0 and unquestionably the story of the year right now in the NFL. Everyone knew this team could play serious defense last year. But if the offense continues to put up numbers like this both in the air and on the ground, they will be awfully tough to beat. So for their bruising assault against the Bills, Jones and Benson are the Bear Report Studs of the Week.


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