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Matt Forte optimistic about coming season, despite no contract

10-4-2009---Bears vs. Detroit---Bears running back Matt Forte seems happy with his 4th quarter TD. Sun-Times phoby Tom Cruze

10-4-2009---Bears vs. Detroit---Bears running back Matt Forte seems happy with his 4th quarter TD. Sun-Times photo by Tom Cruze

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Updated: August 1, 2012 6:17AM

Bears running back Matt Forte refused to discuss his ongoing contract dispute with the organization at the PopChips Game Changers charity event Friday at Marist High School, but he spoke of his optimism for the season.

Forte has yet to sign the franchise tender that would net him $7.7 million for the 2012 season, but he said last Friday that he and the Bears have been talking and that the sides are much closer than they were last year.

They have until July 16 to agree to a long-term deal. Otherwise, Forte would play under the franchise tag.

He said he’s excited to play for new offensive coordinator Mike Tice, who was promoted from offensive line coach.

“Coach Tice is a great coach, and I’ve known that since he’s coached Maurice Jones-Drew down in Jacksonville and Fred Taylor with their running game,” Forte said. “So I had an idea it was going to be the same thing.

“I’m excited to get in there and talk to [the coaches] and get in there with Jay and see what he thinks about the passing game and see how I can get involved in that, too.”

Forte, who said he has been in touch with Jay Cutler, reported that he’s feeling the benefits of a more rigorous training regimen.

Sitting out the last four games of the 2011 season with a sprained knee actually benefitted Forte, who said the time off allowed the typical bumps and bruises of a season to heal faster. Hence, he was able to start his offseason program earlier.

Through training in Florida and with EFT in Highland Park, where several of Chicago’s professional athletes train, Forte has developed a weight-lifting program that has netted the best results of his career. His comments about for his training paint an optimistic picture for the season.

“Training is going very well,” Forte said. “I think I’m probably the healthiest I’ve been since coming out of college. So it’s going to be a fun season.

“I’ve been lifting a little harder this offseason, and I’ve been running more just because I was able to heal.”

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