Skip to main content

Forte won't commit to Bears' preseason games, wants new deal

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears have been through a lot the last seven days. One thing they don't want to endure is a holdout by their star running back.

In a week when three practices have been stopped and moved or canceled, the Bears hope they don't see a work stoppage from running back Matt Forte on Saturday when they open the preseason at home against the Buffalo Bills.

"I expect all the guys to be ready to play if we tell them," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "Again, we'll make those decisions a little bit later, but you just look at what Matt is doing. You love everything he's done, and why wouldn't he be ready to go?"

Forte, who's in the final year of his contract, has a promise from Bears general manager Jerry Angelo to negotiate an extension. It hasn't been done yet. As a result, and out of injury concerns in a meaningless preseason game, Forte hinted Monday that he would consider the possibility of sitting out.

"I've considered not playing in the preseason games," Forte told the Chicago Tribune. "But just to make that a fact, and say 'I'm not going to,' I haven't gotten there yet."

On Thursday, Forte told The Associated Press the situation remains much the same.

"I said it's possible I would consider it," Forte said. "Nothing has changed."

Under the new collective bargaining agreement, players can be fined $30,000 per day for holding out.

"That's the way it is," Forte said of the fines. "You've got to deal with it if you decide to do it."

Nor has Forte's contract status changed, but he said he understands the situation considering the Bears had so many contracts to negotiate once the NFL lockout ended.

"I figured it would take a little while to get a contract," Forte said. "The lockout kind of messed everything up and pushed it all back."

Many running backs dislike preseason games because of the injury risk, but Forte said he sees benefits to getting on the field against Buffalo even if it includes just a few snaps. Last year, Forte had just 12 preseason carries and one reception.

"You can get back to full-speed football, hitting different people than the same people in camp and getting used to being tackled as a running back," he said.

Forte's situation isn't the only one that Smith and coaches had to address Thursday. Wide receiver Johnny Knox reportedly had pondered asking the team for a trade after being demoted to second string behind newly acquired Roy Williams. However, Knox and coaches strongly denied he felt that way .

Smith said he had just posted the first depth chart, and nothing was etched in stone at this point about starters.

"We're a little early to start running somebody out of town or putting someone up top or anything like that," he said. "We're not there yet. This is just a part of the evaluation process."

Knox led the Bears in receiving yards (1,487) and touchdown catches (10) over the last two seasons, but Williams brings a taller presence at 6-foot-3, a type of receiver the team has lacked for years.

The general discontent came one day after the team had to practice for the second time until 10:30 p.m. A blackout in Bourbonnais deprived 1,600 homes of electricity and shut down the Olivet Nazarene University practice lights Wednesday night, so the team loaded into buses and drove several blocks to the Bradley-Bourbonnais High School field to complete practice late.

On Monday, the Bears' afternoon practice was stopped for good after 80 minutes because of lightning and strong rain. And on Friday, they had a practice at Soldier Field canceled because of poorly groomed sod -- it forced them to return to Bourbonnais by bus and practice until 10:30 p.m.

"Yeah, it's been a weird series of events here, you know," quarterback Jay Cutler said. "Nothing we can really do about it. We just have to work through and try to get our work in.

"I mean, who knows what's going to happen tomorrow now?"

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.