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Bears’ Matt Forte, Jaguars’ Maurice Jones-Drew have much to chew on

Maurice Jones-Drew

Maurice Jones-Drew

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Updated: November 7, 2012 6:11AM

Matt Forte wants you to know something about his good friend Maurice Jones-Drew.

‘‘He’s a cheap guy,’’ Forte said. ‘‘A lot of people don’t know that about Maurice, but he’s a cheapo, a cheapskate.’’

In December 2008, the last time their teams played, the Bears beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 23-10. Forte had 21 carries for 69 yards while Jones-Drew had 12 carries for 55 yards.

The loser had to treat the winner to an offseason dinner.

‘‘At first, he wanted to go to a Chinese buffet for like $5.99,’’ Forte recalled. ‘‘I was like, ‘Come on, bro.’ ’’

Jones-Drew begrudgingly took Forte to a steakhouse.

The same bet is on for Sunday.

‘‘This time,’’ Forte says, ‘‘he’s got to take out my entire family.’’

The two Pro Bowl running backs are linked by more than their position. They initially met because they’re both represented by agent Adisa Bakari.

This offseason, both were hoping for new contracts. The Bears placed the franchise tag on Forte, but he didn’t sign the one-year deal. Then, on July 16, Forte agreed to a four-year contract with the Bears worth close to $32 million.

Jones-Drew, meanwhile, skipped the preseason because he wanted to rework the final two years of the five-year, $30.95 million contract he signed in 2009. He ended his holdout Sept. 2 after 38 days.

Jones-Drew hasn’t missed a beat; the reigning rushing yards champion is averaging 4.9 yards per carry and is seventh in the NFL with 352 total.

Holdouts usually struggle, but Jones-Drew said he trained seven days a week while he was away from the Jaguars and might be fresher as a result.

‘‘This is the fastest start I’ve had, so that’s a big deal,’’ he said. ‘‘To me, it just seems like the holdout, yeah, it was for the money. But at the same time, my body stayed healthy.’’

Jones-Drew could use a reprieve since he has averaged 321 carries over the last three seasons.

‘‘Everyone tries to devalue the position. But what team never runs the ball?’’ Forte said. ‘‘We don’t like to see [the position] denigrated, especially since we’ve been used as much.

‘‘[Jones-Drew] fought for what he thought was right — and I thought was right, as well. Producing at that level, he should ask for [a new deal].’’

The Jaguars didn’t budge, and Jones-Drew insisted he won’t be a distraction.

‘‘It’s over and done with,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m here, and we’re just trying to win games.’’

The 1-3 Jaguars could use one Sunday.

Jones-Drew joked that he might switch over to defense because Forte didn’t attend his wedding.

‘‘And I flew out to Chicago for his,’’ Jones-Drew said.

Forte’s response: Jones-Drew wasn’t invited, didn’t bring a gift and only came for the food and drinks.

Reminded that Jones-Drew would have had to pay for the flight, Forte said, ‘‘Well, he thought the food and drinks were worth it.’’

One of the biggest topics of debate between them is which one is faster.

‘‘In a foot race right now,’’ Forte said, ‘‘I would smoke Maurice. If I was 5-foot-6, I’d still beat him.”

Jones-Drew, who is generously listed as 5-7, had the faster time at the NFL Combine (4.39 while Forte had a 4.44), but he lost their last race during their offseason workouts in Florida.

‘‘I got married and went on a honeymoon, and I was a little heavy,’’ Jones-Drew said. ‘‘I came back in and he wanted to race the 100, and he was rolling. I can give you that much.’’

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