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updated: 10/29/2013 9:30 PM

Will Bears rely more on effective run game?

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  • Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte could be feeling the pressure with quarterback Jay Cutler out for at least three weeks. Forte is seventh in the NFL with 533 rushing yeards and he's averaging 21.6 touches per game.

      Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte could be feeling the pressure with quarterback Jay Cutler out for at least three weeks. Forte is seventh in the NFL with 533 rushing yeards and he's averaging 21.6 touches per game.
    Associated Press, 2011

 
 

The Bears are tied for 22nd in rushing attempts, but their ground game has still been extremely effective. Despite getting an average of just 24 attempts per game, the Bears are 14th in yards per game at 112.9 and fifth with a 4.7-yard average gain per carry.

With quarterback Jay Cutler expected out at least three more weeks, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the offense lean more heavily on running back Matt Forte. He's seventh in the NFL with 533 rushing yards and his 4.6-yard average per carry is tied for seventh among the rushing leaders.

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But the versatile Forte is already averaging 21.6 touches per game.

"We don't expect anybody to put the weight of our football team on their shoulders," coach Marc Trestman said. "We've got plenty of guys to do that. Certainly Matt is part of that ball distribution. His touches are certainly important, (and) he's getting a lot of them.

"We'd like him to be more productive, but we'd want to be more productive with everybody. We're not going to put it all on Matt to get us through this. We've got 11 guys on every play on offense to get us through it, and that's the hope that we can get that done."

Forte says there's room for improvement in the run game, despite his own impressive personal numbers.

"It's average right now," said Forte, who expects more work. "We've been doing well. We haven't really run the ball a whole lot like we're probably going to at home when the weather changes.

"We have gotten a lot of big plays out of the running game. We've got three 50-yard runs. I think we can continue to get those chunks of yardage in the running game as we go down the stretch."

Forte has runs of 50, 53 and 55, and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery has added scampers of 38 and 27 yards.

Bigger man:

Jay Cutler was asked to weigh in on the war of words between his buddy, wide receiver Brandon Marshall, and Washington's Brandon Meriweather. The safety was suspended for last week's game after being penalized twice against the Bears in Week 7 for illegal helmet-to-helmet hits.

After the game Marshall wondered if Meriweather should be "taken out of the game completely." Meriweather responded that "players who beat their girlfriends should be kicked out, too," alluding to domestic abuse charges that a former girlfriend filed in 2009 against Marshall, who was acquitted. Marshall declined to fire back at Meriweather.

"We've all made mistakes," Cutler said. "I've made mistakes. Every guy on this team has made a mistake. So I think Brandon (Marshall) is looking toward the future. He's learned from everything he's done in his past, and he took the high road.

"That's just the guy he is these days. He's a high-character guy, so I applaud him for that. And everyone on this team supports Brandon on and off the field."

Sneaky fast:

Quarterback Josh McCown has mentioned that his arm strength isn't in the same class as Jay Cutler, who he's filling in for, but the 34-year-old McCown may have been selling himself short.

"He has good velocity on it," running back Matt Forte said. "He's probably just downplaying his arm a little bit, maybe because he's an old cat. He has great anticipation. You can see when guys are running routes, the ball is in the air before they even turn around."

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