Forte carries high hopes into sophomore season

  • Bears running back Matt Forte is hoping to follow a career path similar to that of LaDainian Tomlinson.

    Bears running back Matt Forte is hoping to follow a career path similar to that of LaDainian Tomlinson. Associated Press

Published9/9/2009 9:31 PM

To find a fair comparison for Matt Forte's rookie season with the Bears, you have to dial the calendar all the way back to LaDainian Tomlinson's debut with San Diego.

Not to go all stat-crazy, but Forte stacked up 316 carries, 63 receptions, 1,715 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns in 2008.


No NFL team relied so heavily on a rookie runner since Tomlinson led the Chargers with 339 carries, 59 receptions, 1,603 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns in 2001.

We broach this topic and calculate this comparison because Forte wants more out of his second NFL season -- and Tomlinson would be a fine example to emulate.

"In everything," Forte said. "Yards per carry, yards per catch, blocking, touchdowns, yards, all that."

But the Tulane product declines to offer specific numbers as the Bears prepare for Sunday's opener at Green Bay, which makes this the ideal time to spotlight's Tomlinson second-year surge.

Though Tomlinson handled just 33 more carries and 20 more receptions in his sophomore season, he raised his yards-from-scrimmage total to 2,172, upped his touchdowns to 15 and earned his first of several Pro Bowl berths.

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But it's one thing to see such numbers and shoot for them. Should we expect Forte to improve simply because he has a year of experience under his belt - something he believes to be a confidence boost - or has there been off-season improvement as well?

"I think a combination of both," said Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner. "He can get (better) because of the second year. He's got a better feel for what's going on.

"And there's some things we can do different with him. You know, put him into position to touch the ball in other ways and just him having the knowledge of everything in play."

Garrett Wolfe, Forte's No. 1 backup in the wake of Kevin Jones' season-ending ankle injury, thinks Forte's running style lends itself to more production.


"I think in this league, the best way to get yards is to make people miss," Wolfe said. "You've got to be able to make people miss and be able to run, and that's something he can do very well."

That's a good thing because Forte, as a rookie, wasn't as good at shedding tacklers once they glommed on to him.

According to STATS LLC, Forte tied for 18th in the league last year with 14 broken tackles. This despite the fact he ranked third with 379 touches.

If Forte has his way, this will be yet another category in which he'll get better.

"Very confident, just because I've had another year in the NFL," he said. "I'd say I'm very confident in my abilities."


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