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Matt Forte will play huge role in Bears’ passing game

“In this offense running back . . . is able catch ball lot” said Matt Forte who had career-low 44 catches last

“In this offense, the running back . . . is able to catch the ball a lot,” said Matt Forte, who had a career-low 44 catches last season. | Sun-Times Library

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Updated: July 18, 2013 2:30PM



Bears training camp starts next week, and it’s clear the world running back Matt Forte knew during his first five seasons with the team is about to undergo a drastic change.

“In this offense,” Forte said Wednesday, “the running back runs a lot of routes and is able to catch the ball a lot.”

Last season, Forte had a career-low 44 receptions and 340 receiving yards. In new coach Marc Trestman’s 10 NFL seasons as an offensive coordinator or quarterbacks coach, his lead back averaged 65 catches a season. Forte, who caught a career-high 63 passes as a rookie in 2008, said that compared to last season, bigger things will be expected of him and he’s ready for a more versatile role.

“I’m able to catch the ball; I’m willing to catch it,” Forte said. “I expect a lot out of myself. I’m looking for a big year for our team as a whole, as well as an explosive offense.”

Forte said the Bears’ revamped offensive line will be the foundation of the explosive offense and help his production out of the backfield.

He’s excited about the additions of Pro Bowl left tackle Jermon Bushrod, left guard Matt Slauson — who didn’t allow a sack last season for the New York Jets — and draft pick Kyle Long, a guard from Oregon.

“To finally have five guys sure up there, up front is going to be key for us this year, and it’ll help [quarterback Jay Cutler] out,” Forte said.

Forte was at Yukich Field in Evergreen Park on Wednesday, coaching more than 175 children from several YMCA of Metro Chicago summer camps at the Meijer Matt Forte ProCamp.

At this time last year, Forte had a different mind-set entering camp.

He had just beaten the deadline for a long-term contract, signing a four-year deal that removed the franchise tag. He also was coming off an injured right knee that forced him to miss the last three games of the 2011 season.

This year, Forte enters camp physically healthy, with a fresh offense and a stable contract.

Forte said he is mentally in a much better place preparing for camp, which begins next Thursday.

“Last year, I knew eventually it would get done,” Forte said about his contract disputes with the Bears. “I was still doing the same training going into camp, so physically, there’s nothing really different about where I am now. But mentally, it feels better not to have to worry about that.”

Forte knows all too well the situation that franchise-tagged defensive tackle Henry Melton faced with contract disagreements. Melton and the Bears failed to agree on a contract extension by the deadline Monday, and the Pro Bowler will play this season without the stability of an extension like the one Forte got last season.

Forte said Melton isn’t bothered to be without a multiyear deal.

“He’s looking forward to making the Pro Bowl again this year,” Forte said. “He’s one of our best
D-linemen, and he’s really come into his own these last couple of years. If he has one good year under a one-year deal that’s worth a lot of
money, then he can get another.”



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