The Chicago Bears made a significant investment in their offense when they signed Chester Taylor to a $12.5 million, four-year contract at the outset of free agency.
But the plan, at least right now, is for Matt Forte to continue as the starting running back. The plan was for Forte to share the load somewhat a year ago but then Kevin Jones suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the final preseason game. Garrett Wolfe rarely got on the field before being hurt himself and once again, it was the Forte show for the Bears.
It wasn’t a good show to watch. His production dipped significantly from a breakout rookie season when he was third in the league in yards from scrimmage. The belief is his decline began when he tore his left hamstring during the offseason program a little more than a year ago.
"Being hurt going into the season was hard because I didn't get to train like I wanted to," Forte told Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune. "You are focused on healing instead of training. You don't get to run as much as you want to or lift as much as you want to. You're worried about not hurting it again."
Still slowed by the hamstring when the season began, Forte sprained the MCL in his left knee in a Week 3 victory at Seattle. Even though he didn’t miss any action, that injury slowed him even more. His numbers dipped and he wound up averaging only 3.6 yards per carry in a difficult season.
Now, as the Bears are less than two weeks away from wrapping up their offseason workout program, he feels better. He looks better.
"I know I have more burst," said Forte, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in January. "I look different on tape. I was missing burst last year, and a second gear. It really wasn't there."
That’s a plus for the team. Forte will have a chance to do some different things in Mike Martz’s offensive scheme, but he has been a solid part of the passing game the last two seasons with 120 receptions in Ron Turner’s scheme. The addition of Taylor, as well as young Kahlil Bell, who came on a little at the end of last season, ensures that Forte will not have to do it all on his own.
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