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Forte shows explosiveness in practice

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 13, 2012 – 11:21 pm

Matt Forte is considered one of the NFL’s most talented and versatile running backs because of plays like the one he made during Monday night’s practice at Ward Field.

Splitting out wide left, Forte raced down the sideline past linebacker Lance Briggs and hauled in a long pass from quarterback Jay Cutler.

“He’s been great, like he’s always been since Day 1 he stepped in the building,” coach Lovie Smith said of Forte. “He’s the ultimate pro. He can do everything you want him to do.

“Tonight you saw him line up out wide, score a long touchdown pass. He can run routes like a receiver can and make you miss in the open field. We have a lot of things in store for him this year.”

Last year Forte became the first player in NFL history to compile at least 900 yards rushing and 400 yards receiving in each of his first four seasons.

After sitting out last Thursday’s preseason opener against the Broncos, Forte is expected to play Saturday night when the Bears host the Redskins at Soldier Field.

“Matt Forte will play this week,” Smith said. “We need to get [backup running back] Michael Bush some quality reps and we need to get our offensive line going. In order for us to do the things that we want to do offensively, we’ve got to get the running game going and hopefully we can.”

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Tice the latest to praise Jeffery

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 13, 2012 – 2:58 pm

Offensive coordinator Mike Tice on Monday joined a growing chorus of Bears coaches and players who have been singing the praises of rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery.

The second-round draft pick from South Carolina, who has been excelling in training camp, caught a game-high four passes for 35 yards in last Thursday’s preseason opener versus the Broncos.

“We were real pleased with Jeffery,” Tice said. “He made some plays for us and really dominated physically. [He] threw people around, and that was pleasing to see.”

Jeffery has made several impressive catches in practice, especially over shorter defensive backs in red zone drills. Tice is confident that the 6-3, 216-pounder will produce similar plays in the regular season.

“I believe with that young man it will translate,” Tice said. “I think we can all see that. That is a big, physical specimen. He played in the SEC against great competition. The speed of the game is not too big for him. He’s played in front of big crowds.

“He is very calm, doesn’t get overexcited, in fact to the point where I say every day, ‘You OK?’ [He responds], ‘Yes, sir.’ He’s a very polite young man. He has been raised right. He’s a great athlete. He won four [high school] state championships in basketball. You want to throw the ball up to him and let him go get it. He’s going to do that.”

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Tice surprised Spencer struggled

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 13, 2012 – 1:55 pm

Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice said Monday he was “very surprised” that veteran left guard Chris Spencer did not play well in last Thursday night’s preseason opener against the Broncos.

“Grade-wise for us last season he had the second-highest grade,” Tice said. “Everyone wants Chris Williams and Chris Spencer to be like [right tackle] Gabe [Carimi]. It is two different styles. That is why we have Gabe on the right-hand side. He is a bruiser. But I was very surprised [about Spencer]. It was certainly not a tape—and Chris knows this; we spoke about it—you want on your résumé.”

In six seasons with the Seahawks from 2005-10, Spencer made 66 of 70 starts at center. His first NFL start came at left guard in 2006 and he opened the final three games of the 2009 season at right guard.

Last season Spencer started 14 of 15 games played for the Bears at right guard, but he was moved to left guard this year with Lance Louis shifting from right tackle to right guard to make room at right tackle for Carimi, a 2011 first-round pick who missed 14 games of his rookie season with a knee injury.

“Chris’ experience at guard has been minimal before he got here,” Tice said. “He was a center. So anything at guard is new for him. But at the same point when we get a guy like Lance Louis and Carimi and you put those guys together on the right side, you should be formidable in the run game, so that is really important.”

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