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Lovie Smith optimistic about injured Matt Forte

Chicago Bears v Green Bay Packers

Chicago Bears v Green Bay Packers

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Updated: October 19, 2012 6:19AM

Running back Matt Forte’s right ankle injury isn’t as bad as first thought.

Forte was on the practice field Monday with his teammates — though not practicing — and when approached by members of the media, he went into a jog to avoid any questions.

“Matt Forte, I’m going to say again, does not have a high ankle sprain,’’ coach Lovie Smith said. “He has an ankle sprain. As far as when he’ll be back, I don’t know. He looked a lot better. I was hoping he would look about the way he did.’’

Smith wouldn’t provide a timetable for his return.

“We don’t want to get that far,’’ Smith said. “We’re not ruling him out of anything just yet. He has a long way to go. I don’t want you to start thinking he’ll be out there practicing. He’s not. But we’re making progress.’’

Spencer takes a seat

Left tackle J’Marcus Webb might have been bumped by quarterback Jay Cutler, but it’s left guard Chris Spencer who’s out of a starting job.

Chilo Rachal, a natural right guard, moved over and worked with the starters on the first day of preparations for the St. Louis Rams, putting the Spencer experiment to rest for the time being.

The move didn’t come as a shock, considering Cutler was sacked seven times in the loss to the Green Bay Packers. Spencer had been in offensive coordinator Mike Tice’s doghouse since training camp.

“We all could’ve done more,’’ Smith said of the problems on the offensive line. “We didn’t coach well enough; we didn’t play well enough. Simple as that. Everybody is included in that. Don’t try to point out one guy. It was all of us, and we’ll get it fixed.’’

Rachal pushed Spencer in the preseason, but it seemed as if Spencer got the benefit of the doubt. Watching Clay Matthews blow past him on one of the sacks must have been the breaking point.

Rachal came over as a free agent from San Francisco, where he started 38 games on the right side.

The move doesn’t mean Webb is in the clear. Newly signed Jonathan Scott is breathing down his neck.

Moving the chains

Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher went through a full practice, and Smith said he was still trying to get into regular-season game shape.

† The Bears announced that tight end Gabe Miller was signed to the practice squad. They had an open spot after tight end Dedrick Epps was signed by the New York Jets and put on their active roster.

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