Bears

Facing uncertain future, Bears pay tribute to 'legend' that is Matt Forte

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Facing uncertain future, Bears pay tribute to 'legend' that is Matt Forte

As the final whistle blew and the Bears and Lions converged at the center of Soldier Field, only one player took off in the opposite direction.

Matt Forte jogged toward the south endzone to briefly thank fans for all their support over the years.

Forte - being the class act that he is - still made sure he had enough time to hustle back to the middle of the field to slap hands with his opponents.

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Facing an uncertain future, Forte knows this might have been his last game with the Bears.

"I was just kind of thanking the fans," Forte said after the Bears' 24-20 loss. "I wasn't able to get everybody, but I was able to slap a few hands and say 'thank you' or whatever just because if it this was the last game that I play in Soldier Field, I didn't want to leave without showing the fans that I appreciate them in person."

Forte said it was just another day of football for him and refused to acknowledge that his fourth-quarter touchdown carried any special significance.

But the eight-year veteran also admitted he spent some time just taking in the surroundings as he walked back to the huddle or stood on the sidelines.

If this is the end, the Bears sent Forte out right, despite the loss. They handed him 17 carries - his highest workload since Week 13 - and targeted him three times in the passing game.

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In the locker room after the contest, Bears players and coaches gushed about Forte with a slew of overwhelming and emotional responses:

Jay Cutler

"It will be sad if we lose him. He's been here my entire career - an unbelievable teammate, unbelievable friend, a true professional in every sense of the word, on and off the field. It would be weird not having him, that's for sure. He gave a lot to this team and this city and he's still got some stuff left in the tank."

John Fox

"I appreciate him and have great respect for him and everything he gave us this season. ... He is a pro. I think he's been that for a long time before I got here. I got to witness it day-in and day-out, good times and bad times. He was a captain and he led a young group. I think a big part of their improvement was Matt Forte."

Kyle Long

"It's incredible. I was thinking about it as he was walking off the field as he was surrounded by people, 'I'm going to tell my kids about this guy; I'm going to tell my grandkids about this guy,' if they don't already know because he's going to be everywhere. He's a legend. He's somebody who should be in the same conversation with the greats. He's the best player I've ever played with."

Marc Mariani

"He's a legend, to me. I love him, man. As amazing of a football player he is, he's an even better guy. Anybody that's been around him for any amount of time can tell you that. To be able to suit up next to that guy and battle with him and just go to war with him every week, that was an honor for me. He's such a stud. I don't know if this is his last game as a Bear, but if it was, man, he's put on a show for a lot of years and it was nothing but an honor to play with him for a year-and-a-half."

Jeremy Langford

"It's hard to explain how much I've learned from him. I've learned a lot on how to be a professional, how to compete every game - in it or not - and how to finish, just like he did [Sunday]. I think he had a great game. I just wish the results were different. It felt good seeing [him get in the endzone], especially for us as a team, since it's been hard for us to score down in the red zone. To see him score really just put us in a position to win the game. It was fun to watch."

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Forte didn't spend much time getting emotional in what may be his final postgame presser with the Chicago media, but he spoke with feeling when asked how he feels about his teammates' respect for him and hearing some of their comments.

"It means a lot," Forte said. "That's what you play the game for. You play the game to earn the respect from your opponents and also your peers, which are your teammates.

"For them to say that, reassures that you've been doing a good job and have been a hard worker during your career. So, I feel like I've been doing the right thing, and if I continue to do that, I'll be in a good place when I finish playing football."

Postcard from Bears camp: Not a great Mitch Trubisky day but another good one for rookie CB, plus Peter King’s look at the ’18 Bears

Postcard from Bears camp: Not a great Mitch Trubisky day but another good one for rookie CB, plus Peter King’s look at the ’18 Bears

 BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – Dear Tolliver clan:
 
I think most of you were there at practice today in your “Toliver II 33” T-shirts, including the three little guys in their “K. T. II Cousin” T’s. That’s pretty amazing support for an undrafted rookie free agent cornerback out of LSU, so you know I just had to intercept another pass for you guys, after the two yesterday. This one was off Tyler Bray throwing a ball to Anthony Miller, a rookie wide receiver who’s playing like anything but a rookie. Miller has amazing speed and is catching balls all over the field and having fun with the crowd. He stopped short of the end zone after one long catch, fans started yelling for him to score, so he backtracked fast and broke the plane of the goal line. Fans loved it.
 
Anthony made a diving catch 45 yards downfield off a throw from Chase Daniel (I won’t say against whom) and Mitch Trubisky and I think half the offense sprinted downfield to give him high-fives. Lotta energy on that side of the football. 
 
And we had some great defensive moments, too. Prince Amukamara broke and nearly intercepted at Mitch pass to Kevin White, and Bryce Callahan broke up one to Josh Bellamy one play later.
 
Meanwhile, the fans loved just about everything, this being the first practice the public could watch. They were even cheering completions in drills, especially Tarik Cohen, who seems like everybody’s favorite. They loved it (and so did the players) when tight ends coach Kevin Gilbride was up tight on guys to simulate press coverage and got faked right off his feet by Trey Burton working his release. But it was all in good fun, and Trey is a tough cover for us DB’s, let alone a coach.
 
Speaking of “coach,” coach Nagy said some nice things about me after practice, saying I’d flashed a few times and gotten turnovers, and “we stressed takeaways on defense and having interceptions is important. [Kevin’s] done that now the last couple of days. Kevin’s a big kid. He’s a tall, rangy, lengthy corner that really almost looks like a safety. So for him to be able to move around out here, it’s about getting confidence. So any time he gets some interceptions, you’re going to build confidence.”
 
Coach Nagy said he needs to see me do it in pads, and we go in pads tomorrow for the first time. The hitting’ll really start then.
 
[signed] Your favorite family cornerback,
 
Kevin

 
Wanted: QB accuracy
 
Improving on the 59.4-percent completion rate he posted as a rookie was a prime directive for quarterback Mitch Trubisky, but Saturday’s session was not a step in the right direction. Trubisky completed less than half of his throws in two 7-on-7 sessions that normally favor the quarterback and receiver. His accuracy rate was no better in the first full-team session but in the second he completed eight of 10, two for touchdowns.
 
Whether the issues were throwing accuracy, route-running or combination of elements wasn’t easily apparent, and coach Matt Nagy did not seem concerned.
 
“There’s going to be a lot of mistakes made out here; that’s what training camp’s all about,” Nagy said.
 
*                          *                          *
Sick bay
 
Guard Kyle Long, coming back from multiple surgeries, was given the first of his scheduled days off on Saturday. Veteran Earl Watford stepped in at right guard. Linebacker Danny Trevathan remained out with a hamstring issue, as did cornerback Sherrick McManis.
 
More concerning was the absence of outside linebacker Aaron Lynch, who injured a hamstring in Friday’s relatively light practice. It marked the third time this offseason that Lynch has been sidelined with injuries, following ankle and hamstring problems through OTA’s and minicamp.
 
*                          *                          *
 
It could happen….
 
Legendary NFL writer Peter King, who joined NBC Sports full time this year after nearly 30 years with Sports Illustrated, dropped by training camp as part of his annual “North American tour” and sat down for chats with this writer, which was a chance to recall some good times and stories as far back as Platteville. Peter and I did a little podcast that includes some Brian Urlacher, Mike Ditka and other tales, as well as Peter’s assessment of the Bears’ situation.
 
Interestingly, Peter does not rule out a season with as many as 10 W’s, despite being in one of the NFL’s toughest divisions with a first-year combination of coach-quarterback-system.
 
It could happen…..
 

 

Training Camp Daily: Peter King Talks Bears Upside

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USA TODAY

Training Camp Daily: Peter King Talks Bears Upside

Training camp Daily: Peter King joins the Under Center Podcast on Day 2 of practice in Bourbonnais. King and John "Moon" Mullin talk Trubisky year 2, Trubisky comparison, Bears upside this season and Urlacher's Hall of Fame Induction.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded link below: