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Matt Forte looking forward to catching more passes

Updated: August 30, 2013 6:48AM



BOURBONNAIS — The year before Marc Trestman became coach of the Montreal Alouettes, the team’s leading running back — Chicago’s own Jarrett Payton — caught 17 passes. In Trestman’s first season, the Alouettes’ leading back — Avon Cobourne — caught 66.

No wonder Matt Forte is smiling.

The underutilization of Forte in 2012 was one of the factors behind general manager Phil Emery’s decision to fire Lovie Smith and hire Trestman. Forte caught 44 passes for 340 yards (7.7 yards per catch), both career lows.

Forte is looking forward to a larger role in the passing game, not just more receptions, but more yards per catch. He has touchdown catches of 89 and 56 yards in his five-year career.

‘‘I’m just excited about getting back to getting out of the backfield and running routes and catching balls. Not just running the ball, but getting the ball out in space,’’ Forte said. ‘‘It’s a different way of running the ball. After you catch it, you’ve got to run with it. So instead of handing it off, you get the ball out in space, and that gives you more opportunity to make big plays.’’

Phair enough?

With former defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli leaving after Smith was fired, defensive line coach Mike Phair takes on a greater role as a mentor to the team’s young linemen, who received invaluable tutelage from the guru-like Marinelli.

‘‘[Marinelli] was a great coach, definitely,’’ second-year defensive end Shea McClellin said. ‘‘Starting my career, I learned a lot from him. I’m definitely going to miss him. But Marinelli was like Yoda to Phair, so Phair is stepping up. He’s the new Yoda.’’

Tillman at it again

Cornerback Charles Tillman made a shoestring interception of Jay Cutler on the first play of 11-on-11 drills Saturday, the second consecutive day Cutler has been picked off on his first pass.

‘‘We’ve elected to not have the first play of practice,’’ Trestman joked. ‘‘We’ll start with play two [Sunday] because we’ve had two picks — two tremendous picks — the first two days of practice. Charles made a great pick [Saturday].’’

Tillman also had a forced fumble, his specialty, on Saturday.

‘‘[He’s] like nothing I’ve ever seen [at stripping the ball],’’ Trestman said. ‘‘His ability to create a turnover is unique. You’ve got every defensive coach in America watching how he does it, trying to figure out how he can get the ball out the way he does [consistently].’’



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