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Matt Forte, Cliff Avril prepared to sit out OTAs

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The Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears will open up their offseason programs next week, and both teams are expected to be without a star player.

For the Bears, it's running back Matt Forte, who's steaming after Chicago slapped him with the franchise tag then signed running back Michael Bush in free agency.

The Lions used their tag on defensive Cliff Avril, who set a career high last season with 11 sacks. Like Forte, Avril has no intention of signing the franchise offer at this time.

Of the two cases, Avril and the Lions appear to be in a more amicable place. Though he doesn't plan on attending OTAs, Avril said he plans remain near team facilities in case a deal comes together quickly.

“I think we’re going to continue to try and get something done hopefully and we’ll see how it goes,” Avril, who was offered a one-year franchise tender of $10.6 million, told the Detroit Free Press.

Forte's franchise tag will pay him $7.742 million -- a raise of more than $7.1 million from 2011 -- but the running back has been vocal for months over his desire for longterm deal similar to what other high-profile backs in the league have received in recent years. By signing Bush, the Bears have sent Forte a message that they're willing to go year-to-year with him.

Offensive and defensive gameplans are installed during OTAs, but Forte won't fall behind on the playbook by sitting out the program.

“There will be no need to change the running game at all,” Tice told the Chicago Tribune in January.

In the cases of both men, missing OTAs won't hinder the team much at all. More damaging could be the bad blood that builds as the stalemates drag out.

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