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Michael Bush gratified that Mike Tice opted for ground-and-pound strategy

CHICAGO IL - SEPTEMBER 23: Michael Bush #29 Chicago Bears celebrates touchdown against St. Louis Rams 2nd quarter Soldier Field

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 23: Michael Bush #29 of the Chicago Bears celebrates a touchdown against the St. Louis Rams in the 2nd quarter at Soldier Field on September 23, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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Updated: October 25, 2012 6:19AM

Michael Bush was surprised that Matt Forte was a no-show Sunday.

The Bears backup running back gladly took the work, but in the middle of the week, he thought Forte’s injured ankle looked well enough that he would give it a go.

“I’m already looking forward to him coming back next week and being out there [against Dallas], keep him healthy and make sure we all stay healthy so we can keep rolling,’’ Bush said.

Always the optimist, even in the face of an afternoon filled with a whole lot of ugly.

“It was ugly, but I got it done,’’ he said.

Then again, considering the loss to the Green Bay Packers and the stagnant attack on the ground 10 days ago, Bush was glad to see offensive coordinator Mike Tice get back to ground and pound against the St. Louis Rams.

“Maybe we got away from it in Green Bay, you know, when we should have been running the ball or something like that, but it changes week-to-week,’’ Bush said. “Next week it might be passing, so you never know. You just got to be ready for it.’’

The Rams sure weren’t, at least in the first half, when the Bears ran the ball 19 times for 77 yards and a touchdown, averaging 4.1 yards per carry. Bush received much of that workload, getting 14 carries for 49 yards and scoring the first touchdown for the Bears from three yards out.

It was about sending a message, according to Bush.

“I think that’s what we tried to do,’’ Bush said. “We did a good job running right at them. They made adjustments in the second half, but the first half we wanted to go right at them.’’

There’s a certain amount of physicality that has been missing from Bears football the first two games.

Yes, there are new toys for quarterback Jay Cutler to play with, and, yes, Forte has shown some flash on the game film. But there’s something to be said about 245 pounds smacking a defense in the face.

That’s why on fourth-and-one from the Rams’ 32, coach Lovie Smith had no reservations about going for it, handing the ball to Bush and keeping the first-quarter drive alive — at least until a Cutler interception ended it.

“I thought Michael Bush stepped up and gave us some good runs, getting the running game going,’’ Smith said.

A power-running game at that.

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