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Matt Forte making presence felt on and off the field

Matt Forte Kyle Bosworth

Matt Forte, Kyle Bosworth

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Updated: November 14, 2012 3:08PM

Bears running back Matt Forte was looking for a Tilden High School football hoodie. He wanted to wear it and participate in practice Thursday at the South Side school. He wanted to be involved in every way he could.

‘‘It brings me back to my high school years, when I played in Louisiana,’’ Forte said not long
before joining Tilden on its practice field at Fuller Park. ‘‘It’s good to be around.’’

To Forte, being involved in off-the-field initiatives — from Duracell’s ‘‘Trust Your Power’’ program Thursday to President Barack Obama’s ‘‘Gotta Vote’’ video — is as important as being a part of the Bears’ offense.

And his involvement in both are starting to grow.

Forte surpassed 100 rushing yards in a game for the first time this season in the Bears’ 41-3 rout Sunday of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Overall, he said he’s happy with the number of opportunities he has had in the Bears’ offense, which has
become more pass-oriented with the arrival of receiver Brandon Marshall and has featured veteran Michael Bush in goal-line situations.

After Week 5, Forte ranked 19th in the NFL in rushing with 58 carries for 270 yards and a touchdown. (Bush also has 58 carries this
season.) Forte also has 10 catches for 106 yards.

‘‘I have no problem with it,’’ Forte said of his involvement. ‘‘There’s no big dispute there.’’

Forte, who is averaging 4.7 yards per carry, noted he missed the Bears’ 23-6 victory against the
St. Louis Rams in Week 3 with an ankle injury.

‘‘No injuries from the Jacksonville game,’’ Forte said. ‘‘In Dallas, I was still about 75, 80 percent. It was hurting a little bit. But this past game, I was good.’’

Forte said things can be better, though. He sees an offensive line that’s starting to jell and find a rhythm. And he sees more chances to run after the bye week.

‘‘Last year, we started a little slow running the ball,’’ said Forte, who accumulated most of his production between Weeks 4 and 10 in 2011. ‘‘I’m hoping that this year picks up about this time, like it did last year, so that we can be among the top teams in the league in running the ball and in all the categories — average per carry, touchdowns and all that stuff. We’ve got a long road ahead of us, but we’ve got to pick it up in the run game.

‘‘It’s important to our offense. As you can see, in games where we didn’t run the ball well, the offense as a whole struggled. If we can get the running game going each game and continue to run the ball, that makes the play-action work. If a team wants to double-team our guys on the outside, we’ve got to be able to run the ball. And if they want to play cover-2 and have two deep safeties be over the top, we’ve got to run the ball on them.’’

Forte’s off-the-field actions also have become more notable. He
recently tweeted a video of himself, Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew and Indianapolis Colts safety Antoine Bethea expressing their support for Obama and stressing the significance of voting.

‘‘It doesn’t matter whom you vote for,’’ Forte said. ‘‘It’s just
important to get out, vote and be heard. It’s your right. A lot of people fought and died for your right to be out there to go out and vote. It’s just letting everybody know to get out and vote if you’re registered. If you’re not, go register and then get out and vote.’’

Forte’s message for Tilden’s football team was about persevering through frustrating times.

‘‘It’s tough to be on a [struggling and outmanned] team like that, but there is a lot to learn from it,’’ Forte said. ‘‘It’s just not about wins, losses and records. . . . Outside of football, there’s many things they can do and be successful at.’’

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