Mike Thomas insisted today that he would be ready to play in the season opener against the New York Giants and that he took himself out of today's humiliating 45-7 loss to the New England Patriots "rather than take a chance."

Thomas' injury was diagnosed as a pulled muscle by Dr. Stanford Lavine, team physician.

Thomas will be allowed several days off from practice this week, although he said he would like to play Friday night in the preseason finale against the New York Jets at RFK Stadium.

"I have a lot of confidence it will be totally well next week," Thomas said. "It cramped up on me today when I tried to accelerate. Rather than take a chance, I came out of there."

"If this was the regular season," he said, "I would have tried to stay in there, oh yeah. But we've got time. If I totally stay off it a few days, I'm sure it will come out all right. I'm a lot more relaxed than I was before.

"It's not that bad right now, I'm not that worried about it. I played a little, and I do need more work, I know that. But the big thing is to be ready for that opener, and I will be."

Asked about Thomas' injury, Allen simply shrugged and admitted, "I don't know what it is. I know a lot of guys haven't been able to play much this preseason. We're missing some key guys, and that can hurt you."

Linebacker Stu O'Dell and defensive end Dennis Johnson also suffered sprained ankles and their status for Friday's game will not be known until later in the week.

O'Dell replaced Chris Hanburger and right linebacker and Allen said "I thought Stu did a pretty good job. You can't fault him."

How much did he miss Hanburger, he was asked.

"That's hard to say," Allen replied. "He's our quarterback on defense, he's an all-pro. It's impossible to replace him."

And what about cornerback Gerard Williams, a man still trying to convince Allen he can replace Pat Fischer, if necessary?

"I don't think they ran at him," Allen said. "They ran against everyone.I don't think anyone did very well against the run. They ran today in passing situations and they threw on running situations. When you get the lead like that, you put the defense on the defense."