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Bears’ ‘A-Train’ earns NFL’s top rookie award

SHARE Bears’ ‘A-Train’ earns NFL’s top rookie award

CHICAGO — Anthony Thomas showed why he's known as the "A-Train," setting the Chicago Bears' rookie rushing record and helping the team win the NFC Central.

With a combination of speed and power, Thomas rolled to 1,183 yards — not bad for a second-round choice who wasn't even a starter until the sixth game of the season. His play won him the Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year award Tuesday.

"He does his thing every Sunday, and that's all you can ask," said Bears offensive tackle James "Big Cat" Williams. "He doesn't have a lot to say, but he expresses himself on the field."

Thomas, the fourth running back taken in the draft, was set back by a bruised knee in training camp and was a backup to James Allen before breaking loose for 188 yards against the Cincinnati Bengals in the season's fifth game.

The next week, Thomas was the starter. He missed two games at midseason because of a hamstring injury, yet surpassed Rashaan Salaam's 1995 Bears rookie record of 1,074 yards.

In balloting by a nationwide panel of 50 sports writers and broadcasters who cover the NFL, Thomas earned 20 votes, beating San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson, who had 16. Tomlinson was a first-round pick, the first running back chosen in the draft.

Behind Thomas and Tomlinson, who rushed for a rookie-best 1,236 yards and 10 touchdowns, were Miami wide receiver Chris Chambers with seven votes, Arizona guard Leonard Davis with five and Indianapolis running back Dominic Rhodes with two.

"There are a lot of guys in our rookie class I thought would have an opportunity to get this award. It was a shock to me that I received it," Thomas said Tuesday.

Several teams bypassed Thomas as he came out of Michigan, where he was the leading rusher in school history.