By Chris Emma—
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) – Matt Forte works extraordinarily hard to be one of the NFL’s premier running backs. As he nears his 30th birthday in December – an age often considered to be the end of a running back’s shelf life – he’s still a top-tier player, as Bears quarterback Jay Cutler stated Thursday.READ MORE: Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy Confirms Justin Fields Has Cracked Ribs, Denies Latest Round Of Rumors
But it was the high praise of Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase that pleased Forte most.
“I’ve never been around a running back that’s been able to do what Matt Forte has, as far as being an all-around back,” Gase said.
For Forte, that respect was something that he appreciates. He feels it’s a testament to his versatility.
“It means a lot, especially coming from an offensive coordinator saying that,” Forte said. “They evaluate us all the time, every day, in what we do in practice and games. I take pride in being that type of player. That’s the type of player I’ve been striving to be my entire career.”
Forte has 507 rushing yards and two touchdowns in six games, while adding 21 catches for 191 yards and a score. With the season nearing its halfway point, Forte’s on pace to rush for 1,352 yards, which would be a career-high.
“I wouldn’t trade him for anyone else,” Cutler said.READ MORE: Former Chicago Bear Dan Hampton Faces Driving While Intoxicated Charge After Recent In Northwest Indiana
Praise has followed Forte for much of his career, rightfully so. He brings that ability to make an impact on all three downs and that irreplaceable talent in the passing game. In 2014, his NFL running back-record 102 receptions were primarily an indictment of Marc Trestman’s one-dimensional offense. This year, with Gase calling the plays, Forte’s simply a rock on offense.
Earlier this week, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson compared Forte to reigning NBA MVP Stephen Curry. In response, Forte immediately pointed to Curry’s work ethic, specifically in practice. Forte’s all business, and it reflects in his game.
Additionally, Gase pointed to how difficult it can be to take Forte out of a game. Forte wants to make an impact, and there’s no reason other than rest for removing him for a substitute. Forte doesn’t desire any time on the sideline, and he pushes himself to ensure it’s not needed.
“It’s all about being healthy, taking care of your body,” Forte said as the Bears (2-4) prepared to host the Vikings (4-2) on Sunday at Soldier Field. “It says a lot about you if it’s hard to take you out of the game, or they don’t want to take you off the field. Whether it’s third down, first, second down, whatever – I take pride in being an every-down running back.”
At the end of this 2015 season, Forte’s contract in Chicago expires. It remains to be seen what general manager Ryan Pace has planned for Forte’s future, though it’s apparent his shelf life could move well past the age of 30.
Forte was asked by a reporter if he has many more years left in his body. He smiled before offering a sly response.
“Yes,” Forte said. “I’m much younger than you.”MORE NEWS: Chicago Weather: Slight Warm Up On The Way
Follow Chris on Twitter @CEmma670.