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Bears’ Matt Forte ready to build on career-best season

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Updated: June 30, 2014 12:45PM



Never in his six-year career had Matt Forte watched the Bears draft another running back.

When they finally did this month, selecting Ka’Deem Carey in the fourth round, Forte described his reaction as ‘‘indifferent.’’

‘‘Since I’ve been here, they’ve had a lot of running backs come in,’’ Forte said after
the first day of organized team activities Tuesday. ‘‘Even when I was going through contract [negotiations in 2012], bringing in Michael [Bush]. And the year before that Marion [Barber]. And the year before that Chester Taylor.

‘‘So, you know, it’s not like I don’t care, but it’s not like I really care a lot. It’s just another guy that’s coming in. I can help [Carey] out if he wants to be helped. But I’m just worried about this offense and what I can do in it — and what we can do together on offense.’’

Forte speaks with a confidence befitting his best season. No running back in the NFL touched the ball more often than Forte did last season. His 1,339 yards rushing with nine touchdowns and 594 yards receiving were the top totals of his career.

And he thinks he only will get better. Forte described the first season in coach Marc Trestman’s offense as a feeling-out period at first. He said the Bears ‘‘started out pass-heavy’’ and were ‘‘sprinkling in runs’’ before finding out what plays the offensive line was best at blocking.

‘‘We had to figure out what we were gonna be good at,’’ Forte said.

In the Bears’ first six games last season, Forte averaged 71.8 yards rushing. In their last 10, he averaged 90.8.

‘‘If you can play with confidence, you don’t have to think about it,’’ Forte said. ‘‘We kinda had a little thinking that would hold us back a little bit. You had to think about formation, think about the play and learn the
offense and stuff. We’re a little bit ahead of the game right now at that point.’’

Continuity has been as rare as a red steak for Forte. The 2014 season will mark the first time in his career all 11 offensive starters from the previous season have
returned.

The Bears re-signed center Roberto Garza and left guard Matt Slauson and, perhaps as important, gave receiver Brandon Marshall a three-year extension last week. Marshall was rated
the NFL’s No. 1 blocking
receiver last season by Pro Football Focus.

‘‘Brandon and [receiver] Alshon [Jeffery] are part of the O-line, just like I am with their blocking,’’ Forte said.

Combine that with the development of second-year linemen Kyle Long and Jordan Millls — ‘‘There’s just so much room for them to grow,’’ Forte said — and it’s not crazy to think the Bears can improve on the No. 2 scoring offense in the NFL they had last season.

‘‘We’ve got to work hard and try to obtain bigger and better things in the
offense this year,’’ Forte said. ‘‘Not just statistically but the whole game. Finishing games. Not letting teams get close. And just scoring more and more points each game.’’

The Bears will enter the season without a proven short-yardage back. When they chose not to re-sign Bush, they were left with special-teamer Michael Ford, veteran signee Shaun Draughn and Carey as the top reserve and special-package options. It might be that Forte will handle the short-yardage situations himself.

‘‘That’s part of the game that I can do,’’ he said. ‘‘And if they don’t want me to do it, then I won’t do it.’’

Email: pfinley@suntimes.com

Twitter: @patrickfinley



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