Although Bears running back Matt Forte hasn’t signed his franchise tender, does not appear to be close to an agreement on a long-term contract and hasn’t participated in minicamp, Organized Team Activities or anything else this offseason, his coaches aren’t worried.
Bears running backs coach Tim Spencer said that despite Forte’s absence and the change from Mike Martz to Mike Tice as offensive coordinator, Forte will be able to step right in and be ready to play in the Bears’ offense, whenever he’s ready to sign the Bears’ contract offer.
“There’s a little different terminology, but Matt is smart enough that he should be able to pick it up,” Spencer said. “Some of our things we’re doing with the same name. We’re doing some of the same things with a different name, too. So once he masters that he should be OK. He should be very functional when he comes in.”
Bears head coach Lovie Smith also indicated that he’s not worried, hinting that he expects Forte to be with the team by training camp.
“Can’t wait to get down to training camp, to get a few more of our guys back out there in the mix,” Smith said. “Brian Urlacher, get Matt Forte back out there, those guys.”
The optimism from the coaching staff mirrors that of Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, who said he’s sure Forte will sign before the start of training camp. The problem, however, is that Forte hasn’t said anything that sounds quite so optimistic about a deal getting done. And until Forte does say he’s ready to sign, the Bears’ optimism may be misplaced.