- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 20, 2001

The Washington Redskins have to catch the "A-Train" to reach the playoffs.
Chicago running back Anthony Thomas will lead the Bears' dominant running game against the Redskins on Sunday at FedEx Field. Thomas, the NFC's leading rookie rusher with 865 yards despite missing two games with a strained hamstring, still allows the Bears to surprise defenses although they know he's basically the team's game plan.
"Generally, an offense has six basic running plays, and they have at least a dozen and you're never sure what they're going to do," Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer said.
Oh, defensive tackle Kenard Lang knows what to do to stop Thomas.
"Hit him in the mouth," Lang said. "That's the way to get any [running] back. Hit them hard before they get to the hole and make [the Bears] pass the ball. Whenever we stop the run, we play well as a team."
The Bears have overcome quarterback problems by running past opponents. Thomas gained 173 yards on 31 carries against Tampa Bay last week and 188 yards on 22 carries against Cincinnati on Oct. 21 and needs only 210 yards to break Chicago's rookie rushing mark. His success has put Bears atop the NFC Central and left the Redskins expecting the visitors to test them inside.
"There have been a lot of teams stacking eight, nine, even 10 people, and [Chicago] has still been successful," defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson said. "That brings a lot of confidence on their part. They're coming in here fully expecting to win."
Washington (6-7) knows it probably will need a victory to remain alive in the playoffs. A Washington loss and Tampa Bay (7-6) victory eliminates the Redskins.
"I don't know the numbers, so I can't say must-win, but better-win," Schottenheimer said.

Big Daddy rumbles
Dan Wilkinson still keeps the ball on a shelf from his 88-yard interception return and touchdown against Chicago in 1999. Teammates joked about watching the calendar change while the 325-pounder "ran" down the field.
"He needed a big oxygen tank when he got to the sideline," Kenard Lang said. "He was shot for a while."
Wilkinson knew he would score when cornerback Darrell Green came alongside at the 20-yard line to throw a block. However, Green first pushed a tiring "Big Daddy" several yards from behind for some lasting momentum. The results were debatable.
"Big Daddy wasn't going any faster," Lang said. "Darrell can't shove a grape down the street."
Said Wilkinson: "I wouldn't have made it in without Darrell."
Meanwhile, Chicago coach Dick Jauron figured the Bears must gamble by double-teaming Wilkinson and hoping the Redskins' rush doesn't succeed elsewhere.
"It takes two to block him and that leaves somebody free," Jauron said. "He plays with discipline and knows what to do to help that defense."

Health watch
Running back Stephen Davis (bruised knee) and linebacker LaVar Arrington (sore foot) may practice today after resting yesterday. Davis was listed as questionable, but Schottenheimer expects him to play.
Linebacker Kevin Mitchell (sprained knee) appears doubtful, with Robert Jones moving inside and linebacker Antonio Pierce starting outside. Tight end Stephen Alexander was limited in practice after missing two games with a broken ankle. Guard Matt Campbell (dislocated kneecap) is doubtful after missing three games.

Extra points
Marty Schottenheimer seemed skeptical that recently signed tight end Marco Battaglia will play against Chicago. Schottenheimer is willing to activate only tight ends Walter Rasby and Zeron Flemister instead of the traditional three if Stephen Alexander can't return. …
Kenard Lang played middle linebacker on the defensive scout team during practice. The starting offenses and defenses stop working against each other after training camp, so Lang simulated Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, even wearing a yellow No.54 jersey. …
Offensive tackle Chris Samuels will sponsor holiday shopping for 15 families tomorrow.

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