Mike Thomas' attorney said yesterday he believes the Redskin running back has a legitimate injury, "and this is not the kind of situation some people are making it into. Mike Thomas is "not a malingerer."

John Dickens, a Dallas-based attorney who represents Thomas in his contract negotiations with the team, said he has heard and read reports that members of the Redskin organization believe Thomas could have played the last two weeks despite his sore right foot.

"There's talk all the time about Mike, "I just read something in one of the Dallas papers about it" Dickens said. "Bobby Beathard (the Redskin general manager) bad mouths Mike all the time. It's not right.

"I don't believe it's a malingering kind of situation because Mike is hurting his bargaining position by not playing. I think if he gets back in there and plays, he'll be all right. But I wish he was in there right now running, because it could hurt him."

Thomas is in the option year of his contract and could become a free agent at the end of the season if he does not agree to a new contract with tre Redskins.

Dickens said he has had no contact with Beathard for the last eight weeks. "I told them what we wanted, they made a very low offer and we haven't talked since. I'd like to hear from them. I don't know what they're thinking.

"I'd like for Mike to be in Washington next year, but I don't know. They may meet the offer he gets as a free agent.

"Other teams have expressed interest in Mike, and not all of them are in the NFL, either. But the guy is an NFL player, and that's where I'd like him to be."

Was Thomas distressed when the Redskins acquired running back Benny Malone two weeks ago?

"No, not really. It didn't bother us at all," Dickens said. "With the injury situation the way it is in the NFL, you need a lot of players. Malone is no threat to Mike Thomas."