By Chris Emma–

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) — When linebacker Sam Acho first joined the Bears, he held running back Matt Forte in the same esteem as he did former Cardinals teammate Larry Fitzgerald.

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Acho views Forte as one of the most important assets in the Bears’ locker room.

“Matt’s an unbelievable guy,” Acho said. “He’s a leader. He’s the guy you hear about when you play in the NFL — you hear about this guy, his character.”

The Bears are preparing to move forward without Forte, who suffered an injury to his right knee in Sunday’s 23-20 loss to the Vikings. Coach John Fox stated that it wasn’t a season-ending injury and that it wouldn’t require surgery. However, the team is ready to have rookie running back Jeremy Langford step in.

While the Bears can’t replace Forte’s consistency, all they can do is hope for production.

“Matt is obviously one of the most exceptional backs we have in the league, year in and year out,” Bears tackle Kyle Long said of Forte. “He has a unique skill set and a running style that’s Matt Forte’s running style.”

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Forte has rushed for 548 yards this season and has 25 receptions for another 219 yards. His quiet presence is also a constant for the Bears. He leads by example, rather than being a loud, outspoken player.

For Acho, the way Forte carried himself off the field was what he first noticed. He caught on to Forte’s work ethic to stay healthy and in shape. Then he noticed the charity efforts and passion that Forte carries.

“As I’ve gotten a chance to know his better, his leadership has really stood out,” Acho said. “His character, he’s a man of character. He’s a man of faith. He’s just a passionate man, a passionate football player, and just a great guy.”

Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline marked the end of potential trade rumors surrounding Forte’s name. In his final year of his contract with Chicago, the 29-year-old Forte wasn’t moved on the trade market, with any possibility haltered by the knee injury. The Bears held on to linebackers Willie Young and Lamarr Houston, too, each of whom were candidates to be moved.

As they plan to move forward with Forte as a centerpiece for their offense, the Bears have to hope Langford can fill his void well enough for the team to improve its 2-5 record.

“Any time injuries happen in the NFL, you always have to step up,” Acho said. “You always have that next-man-up mentality. We’ve had a lot of guys either get injured, go down or not with the team anymore. We’ve always had somebody step up, and the same thing’s going to happen, no matter who it is.”

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Follow Chris on Twitter @CEmma670.