Forte emerges from rookie camp as Benson's competition

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Tulane running back Matt Forte, the Bears' second-round draft pick, figures to be Cedric Benson's chief competition for the starting running back position when training camp begins July 23.

He impressed coaching staff during a three-day rookie minicamp that concluded Sunday. Benson was arrested early Sunday in Texas on charges of boating while intoxicated and resisting arrest.

"Matt Forte ... since the first practice, has stood out," Bears coach Lovie Smith said Sunday. "He looked like he's been here before and that's what you want to see."

Benson is recovering from a broken left lower leg suffered against Denver in the Bears' 12th game of the 2007 season. Benson's arrest is his third brush with the law, and first since coming to the NFL as the fourth pick overall in the 2005 draft.

In three seasons, Benson has 1,593 rushing yards on 420 carries with 10 touchdowns.

Forte steered clear of any controversy regarding Benson throughout the rookie camp.

"We're here for the team, to make the whole team better," Forte said.

Forte had had 81 catches for 828 yards and five TDs at Tulane and seemed especially comfortable catching passes in coach Bob Toledo's offense.

Forte graduates May 17, so he could take part in the team's May 30 full-squad minicamp.

"There are a lot of different things they can use me as out there, as a versatile running back a lot of different things I can do in the offense," Forte said.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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