"If I had played when I was hurt, I'd be in bad shape now," says Redskin running back Mike Thomas, who was criticized because he refused to play with an injured ankle earlier this season.
"When a guy is hurt and can't perform up to expectations, then that's it," Thomas continued. "I just had to let it (his ankle) get well. There was nothing else I could do.
"I'm healthy now and ready to roll."
A healthy, rolling Thomas could be just what the 8-5 Redskins need to stop their skid against 8-5 Miami at RFK Stadium Sunday.
Thomas, who is on the option year of his contract with the Redskins, has lacked his usual zip since returning to the lineup several weeks ago. In the Redskins' dismal showing in their loss to St. Louis, Nov. 19, the home fans booed Thomas on several occasions.
"I don't even think about it," he said of the adverse reaction. "I don't have any problems. I feel fantastic and have a lot of confidence in my ability."
The Redskin running attack has been poor in the last two games, producing a total of only 107 yards' 17 on scrabling runs by quarterback Joe Theismann.
"If we can establish the running game against Miami, we'll be okay," Thomas said.
Coach Jack Pardee put the Redskins through a lively two-hour practice yesterday, their first major workout since Thanksgiving and Thomas looked sharp. He ran hard and displayed many of his quick, darting moves.
"I enjoy working," Thomas said. "If you work hard during the week, then good things migt happen to you on Sunday."
Statisfically, this is Thomas' poorest season. He has rushed for only 465 yards and missed three games because of his ankle. An eye injury also has hindered him at times.
Even though he hasn't been gaining many yards rushing, Thomas has been consistent blocker and he leads the team in pass receptions with 28 for 337 years
Thomas has not had a 100-yard rushing day in the last two seasons, but he says one may be near, because of the way he feels now.
"If a back can break clear through the line five or six times a game he should be able to get 100." Thomas said. "I just haven't been able to get out in the open."
Thomas says he still hasn't given up on gaining 1,000 yards this season. "There's still three weeks left." he said.
There are those who say Thomas made an unwise decision when he decided to play out his option this season after the Redskins wouldn't give him what he wanted. Thomas says he is not looking back "and it isn't on my mind." He feels he did the right thing.
"I'm not holding it against anyone." he said. "I'll always do the best I can. If they want me to run, I'll run, if they want me to black. I'll block and if they want me the catch passes, I'll catch passes. It's all part of my job and I want to do it the best I can."
Despite all he has gone through this season. Thomas says last season was even tougher, "because I had a hamstring pull most of the year.
"Right Now, though, I'm just ready to go."
Pardee said it was "a pretty good practice" yesterday. However running back John Riggins, defensive tackle Dave Butz and guard Ron Saul did not participate because of injuries.
Saul is the most seriously injured. He has a torn groin muscle and strained foot ligaments, both on his left side.
He played most of the Dallas game with the injuries and now is hobbling. Pardee said that if Saul is able to play Sunday, he wanted him in the lineup.
With Saul not working yesterday, Jim Harlan ran at his guard spot and Jeff Williams was at Harlan's tackle spot.
"It's awfully painful and I can't push off it," Saul said. "It happened in the first quarter of the Dallas game, but I didn't want to come out so I kept playing on it."
Riggins rested his sore ankle. Butz has a shoulder injury.
Pardee had indicated earlier in the week that he was concerned about linebacker Chris Hanburger's physcial condition, too, but Hanburger worked out yesterday and his sore leg seems to be better than Pardee anticipated.
"Chris got nearly most of the work today, but he's still not 100 percent," Pardee said.