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Matt Forte has same role, it’s just more important

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Updated: October 29, 2013 11:41PM

Bears coach Marc Trestman wants Matt Forte to carry the ball — not the team.

“We don’t expect anybody to put the weight of our football team on their shoulders,” Trestman said Tuesday. “We’ve got plenty of guys to do that.”

Only one, though, truly can take the heat off backup quarterback Josh McCown for the next few weeks.

“We have to do our job up front, and we have to protect them and we have to create those running lanes for Matt,” center Roberto Garza said. “Not put too much pressure on Josh’s shoulders.”

Forte said over and over Tuesday that his role hasn’t changed — “No extra load. None,” he said — but the ground game still needs to improve, starting Monday in Green Bay.

Forte averaged 16.5 carries per game last season. This year, he’s averaging 16.6, tied for 10th-most in the league.

He’s carried between 12 and 20 times this season. The Bears have won the three times he’s rushed at least 19 times.

“His touches are certainly important. He’s getting a lot of them,” Trestman said. “We’d like him to be more productive, but we’d want to be more productive with everybody. That’s where we are right now

“We’re not going to put it all on Matt to get us through this.”

Forte is averaging 4.6 yards per carry — the second-highest mark of his career — but he called the Bears’ rushing attack “average” so far.

“We haven’t really run the ball a whole lot like we’re probably going to when we get at home and the weather changes,” Forte said.

“We are being efficient. Our first downs are gaining positive yards. We’ve gotten a lot of big plays out of the run game.”

Forte has runs of 55, 53 and 50 yards this season.

“That’s the kind of things, as offensive linemen, that we hang our hat on,” left tackle Jermon Bushrod said. “When your running back can break a few long touchdowns in a year, that’s what it’s all about.”

Forte, though, was quick to preach balance.

“When we get a big play in the running game, it’s usually set up by something in the passing game,” Forte said. “And usually once that happens, they try to clamp down on the run, and then Alshon [Jeffery] or Brandon [Marshall] catches a long pass or something.”

With the passing game led by a man who has started twice in the last five seasons, the rushing attack takes on a greater importance.

“Getting Matt out in the open, that’s when he’s at his best,” Garza said. “And that’s when our offense is rolling.”


Twitter: @patrickfinley

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