BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- The Bears had a familiar figure on the
practice field for their final workout before breaking training
camp: Thomas Jones.
The team's top rusher last year, who hadn't suited up or
practiced since camp began after hurting his hamstring while
running during his physical, worked with the scout squad Wednesday.
"It feels good to practice today and get back on the field.
Obviously I'll do a lot more next week. Today's the first day
back," Jones said.
Coach Lovie Smith said he wanted to ease Jones into full-speed
"It's a step at a time and he's missed a lot of time, but we
like where he's at right now," Smith said Wednesday.
Jones, who rushed for 1,335 yards last season, was demoted to
the second team after skipping voluntary offseason workouts. But
Cedric Benson, who'd been promoted, hurt his shoulder in training
camp and is sidelined.
Neither played last week in the preseason opener at San
Francisco. Nor will they play this Friday in the home exhibition
game against San Diego.
Jones wasn't sure if he'd be ready for the third preseason game
Aug. 25 against the Cardinals.
"I'm prepared to do whatever they want me to do, that's how I'm
looking at it. Coaches and trainers wanted me to do a little bit
today. I'm sure they'll want me to do more next week. However they
want is how I'll go," he said.
Jones said he took it fairly easy in the final practice at
Olivet Nazarene University.
Asked if he wanted to regain the No. 1 spot, Jones said he
wasn't going to comment.
"That's irrelevant. I'm here to play football, I'm not here to
talk about controversy and all," he said. "I'm here to do what
I'm capable of doing and that's make plays."
Offensive coordinator Ron Turner said Jones and Benson are
"both very good players."
"We believe in both of them," Turner said. "We're going to
put them both out there and hand them the ball and let them go."