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Matt Forte anticipating fully healthy return for Bears

There will be a time in the not-so-distant future when Matt Forte will be on the field with the rest of the Chicago Bears. He'll tell the media he's done thinking about his contract situation (though he won't be) and the Bears will say their relationship with Forte hasn't been damaged (though it will have been).

And in this future, Forte predicts you'll see a better version of the running back who played at an elite level before a knee injury prematurely ended his 2011 season.

"I've been lifting a little harder this offseason and running more," he said Friday, via ESPN.com. "Just because I was able to heal a lot earlier having to sit out the last four games and having that time, and I was able to heal from the other injuries."

Forte -- who has yet to sign his $7.749 million franchise tender -- sat out OTAs and minicamp, but said his private training at EFT Sports Performance in Highland Park, Ill., yielded new results.

"I was always a guy who's in the gym. I'm a gym rat," he said. "But I came to work out with them, it was a lot different, a lot harder. So I thought I reached a peak lifting-wise, I didn't think there's anything new I could learn, but they taught me a lot of new stuff. It's going to help me out this year."

There was a report in May that concerns about Forte's health -- specifically with regard to his knees -- were a motivating force in Chicago's unwillingness to entertain a long-term deal. In Forte's defense, he never missed a game for Chicago in four years prior to the MCL sprain suffered against the Kansas City Chiefs.

He can also sprint up grassy hillsides carrying 100-pound weights, for whatever that's worth.

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