The Bears opened their mandatory minicamp on Tuesday and one of the key contributors for Mike Tice’s new offense was not surprisingly absent as running back Matt Forte missed camp. Last week, Jay Cuter said he’d be “shocked” if Forte wasn’t in camp when the Bears head down to Bourbonnais at the end of July. It shouldn’t be surprising that he’s missing minicamp; there are no fines associated with these sessions even though they’re mandatory.
Since Forte hasn’t signed the Franchise Tag tender, technically he’s not under contract, so he can’t be fined. It’s a different situation for Maurice Jones-Drew, who shares the same agent, and the same contract beef, as Forte. Jones-Drew missed the first day of the Jaguars’ minicamp and his holdout could last beyond training camp and into the season. The difference is that MJD is under contract and can be fined up to $63k for the three missed sessions. It’s an expensive point to prove and we can only hope that Forte doesn’t follow Adisa Bakari’s advice on this one.
Bears head coach Lovie Smith isn’t as optimistic about Forte’s status, but won’t let that slow him down.
“No, I wouldn’t speculate on that,” said Smith, who seemed a little agitated with inquiries about Forte. “When he shows up, we’ll be ready to coach him up then.”
Lovie is taking the right approach. No one – not Cutler or Forte or Urlacher or Peppers – is bigger than the team. They’ll prepare to go to battle with the guys they have available and Smith isn’t going to let it bother him:
“It can’t,” Smith said. “It’s not an issue for me and it can’t be. I look at it, during the course of the year you have guys that aren’t here for whatever reason –– injuries, whatever. You coach the guys that can go, that can practice. We have been spending all of our time with that. I know Matt Forte. I am sure he has been spending all of his time getting ready to go.
“But in the meantime the best thing we can do for the Chicago Bears is keep this train going, which we’ve done.”
Next stop for that train? SUPER BOWL!!!