Matt Forte wants to be on the field. The running back is very aware of his status with the team as his contract is set to expire at the end of the season and while he denies that as being his main motivation, it is in the back of his mind as Jeremy Langford begins to slowly replace him. Heading into Week 11, the Bears are staying quiet on whether or not Forte is ready to play as he is expected to battle with the rookie for a starting spot on the field.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Forte is feeling much better after suffering a knee sprain, but is not yet guaranteed a spot for Week 11. Forte said his knee is at "80 percent" and he still has a ways to go before he can be cleared for full contact. Forte is aware of the success Langford is having in his spot, but the running back is more focused on getting healthy rather than battling to beat the rookie.
"That's (a factor), if not the most important factor -- the future," Forte said, via the Tribune. "Because if you go out there for one game and then ruin the rest of your season and maybe your career, then that's a big factor. There's a lot of football left to be played. So you don't want to chance it for one game. That's a lot of it."
The Bears will have some tough decisions if Forte is cleared to play for Week 11. Head coach John Fox told the media that he expected Langford to have a big role in the offense whether Forte is healthy or not, but what that role is is simply unknown. Langford is coming off a game where he once again was the best offensive performer, leading both rushing and receiving stats with 73 yards and touchdown on the ground and 109 yards and touchdown through the air. He has been the spark the Bears desperately needed and they cannot afford to take him off the field.
In the short-term, the Bears will push Langford along with Zach Miller and Martellus Bennett. Alshon Jeffery is slowly getting healthier and those four players could be the keys for helping Jay Cutler save the season. In the long-term, Langford is the heir to Forte's rushing throne. His rise means the Bears might not put up a fight to retain Forte who is approaching 30 despite his numbers not showing that. Keeping a young rookie rather than paying more for a veteran could be the preferred move for the Bears moving forward. Langford is a bargain signed to a four-year deal worth $2 million. That could play the biggest role in deciding Forte's future.