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Mike Martz says he plans to return next season

Mike Martz talking with Caleb Hanie was bothered by reports thsaid he wouldn’t be back next season. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Mike Martz, talking with Caleb Hanie, was bothered by reports that said he wouldn’t be back next season. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: January 9, 2012 10:15AM



Mike Martz said he’s embarrassed about reports that he won’t return as the Bears’ offensive coordinator.

On Sunday, ESPN reported that Martz “is not expected to return after his contract expires” and that college jobs could “be in play.” Shortly thereafter, the Sun-Times reported that it was “highly unlikely” that Martz would return in 2012, citing an NFL source, and that he considered his departure a foregone conclusion since he was offered a $1 million extension — the same salary as this season.

“I’m bothered by that,” Martz said in his first public comments since those reports. “Obviously, I plan on being back here and want to be here. I’m just going to assume it’s going to work out.

“That’s unfortunate; that’s the only thing that I can tell you. It’s just like, college jobs and those things, we’re focused on this job and what I’m doing. I’m very happy here. This is a terrific place and a terrific opportunity for me, and I’m enjoying it. I really am. So those things, we’ll just kind of disregard, if you will.”

Martz said he didn’t know where those reports were coming from.

“I’m disappointed,” he said. “I’m bothered by that, really.”

Martz said he talked to coach Lovie Smith afterward.

On Monday, Smith said he hadn’t discussed Martz’s future with anyone.

Forte replacements

Smith lamented that Matt Forte won’t play on Sunday, but he noted that the Broncos won last Sunday in Minneapolis without standout rookie linebacker Von Miller.

“It hurts us,’’ Smith said. ‘‘Matt is a great player, one of the best players in the league. So without him, we are not as strong. This time of year, the Broncos played without a great player, Von Miller, last week. That’s just a part of life. We can’t wait to get Matt back, but in the meantime, we have to move on.”

Marion Barber and Kahlil Bell will share the workload against Denver.

Bell acknowledged that it’ll be tough to replace Forte.

“I’m confident in my abilities to play the game,’’ Bell said. ‘‘I feel like I can catch the ball. If they need me to do that, I’m going to do that to the best of my abilities. I’m not going to try to be anybody else that I’m not.”

Bell did note, though, that he and Caleb Hanie have had plenty of time to work together because they were on the scout team the last two seasons.

Injury update

Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher and cornerback Charles Tillman were limited in practice with quadriceps injuries. Defensive tackle Anthony Adams was limited with a back injury. For the Broncos, Miller (thumb) was limited, and running back Willis McGahee (knee) and receiver Eddie Royal (concussion) didn’t practice.



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