Matt Forté: 'They've Had to Hold Me Back'


As if in the eye of the hurricane, Matt Forte in his soft-spoken voice told reporters today, "I'm always relaxed."

But Forté is feeling the tug of the winds that want him to put his hamstring injury behind him and get out on the Jets' practice field and into game action. In fact, the Jets' new tailback admitted, in his relaxed way, that he feels that urge, too.

"This is the most anxious I've been and the most patience I've had to have with an injury," he told reporters after today's latest hot-weather practice at the Atlantic Health Training Center. "They've had to hold  me back, personally, because if not, if it was up to me, I'd be going at it every day to try to be out there on my own terms."

But the plan is the plan. For any fans feeling panicky about not seeing No. 22 strut his stuff yet, he hasn't had any setbacks, he worked in position drills today for the third time this summer, he doesn't know if he'll make an appearance by preseason Game 3 against the Giants ... and it's all good by head coach Todd Bowles.

"When he's back, he's back," Bowles said. "I don't have a timetable for him. We understand the process we're taking with him and we're fine with it."

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Forté may be 30, but he's also a ninth-year pro so he knows the ropes. As his "Work Horse" nickname indicates, he's always in exceptional shape.

As for knowing his role in coordinator Chan Gailey's offense, Forté said, "I got a lot of reps in the offseason. I know the offense, and by watching in camp, I know it a lot more. It doesn't take that long to get back into it."

And while he never went a whole preseason as a Bear without playing a game, his summer numbers back him up about getting into top-back mode. In the past four preseasons, Forté played in 10 games, averaging 6.0 touches and 15.8 offensive plays per game and 15.0 touches and 39.5 plays per summer. He wouldn't be far off those numbers assuming he sits Friday vs. the Redskins and plays only vs. the Giants.

And if he doesn't play in the preseason? He wouldn't be the first bellcow back to sit out four preseason games and hit the ground running on opening day.

"I'm looking forward to being on the practice field soon," he said. And regarding the Sept. 11 opener against the Bengals, he said, simply, softly and confidently, "I'll be available."

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