The Bears' "intent" to give running back Matt Forte a contract extension satisfied Forte enough to come to training camp, but left one significant hole: What happens if he gets hurt?
Forte has been in camp and has been running well in the first week of practices. But with less than a week before the first preseason game, the injury factor is looming larger. And the possibility exists that he would sit out the Bears' preseason opener Saturday against the Bills at Soldier Field, Forte said Sunday.
"It's our first preseason game, I've been out here at practice an I think I'm getting pretty well-prepared for the regular season,'' Forte said. ''Every time you step on the field, it's a risk. It's a risk when I step out on the practice field. It's even more risk in a preseason game. Guys are out there, trying to make the team, on the other teams. Sometimes you just want to be cautious about taking a chance out there.
And furthermore ...
"We're playing at Soldier Field -- we couldn't even practice there the other day because of the field. There's no telling what's going to happen.''
Forte said that negotiations with the Bears on a new contract are "going well. It's going to take a little bit. But the deal will get done, I believe."
As Forte explained it Sunday, he's not trying to be heavy-handed by considering sitting out the preseason game, just cautious. Though Bears general manager Jerry Angelo explained his "intent" to get a deal done was close to giving his word, the Bears have not promised Forte the deal would get done whether he's healthy or not.
''It's a concern of mine,'' Forte said. ''You don't want to go out there and go in a preseason game and god-forbid something happens and then they say, 'You're injured. We can't give you a new deal.' ''
Forte said he considers himself "one of the top" running backs in the NFL. Forte was 10th among NFL running backs in all-purpose yards with 1,616 -- 1,069 rushing (4.5 yards per carry) and 547 receiving. He was fifth in the league in that category over the final nine weeks of the season (961 yards -- 717 rushing, 244 receiving)
''I'm not going to say 1 or 2, but I think I'm among the top,'' Forte said, ''because I'm an every down back. I pick up pass protection, run the ball, catch the ball out of the backfield -- all aspects of the position that need to be done.''
And even though he's only 25, he knows that NFL running backs get old quickly.
''When you get to 29-30, they say, 'You're pretty old as a running back,''' he said. ''In this position, you don't really see a lot of guys get long-term deals. You don't see a lot of teams pay running backs.
''I've heard some people say it's an expendable position. They get a couple of new guys in every year. It's a dangerous position. I think it's maybe one of the most injured positions in the NFL.''
When Forte arrived in camp after contemplating holding out, he said he showed up because holdouts are bad for the team and bad for the player. But sitting out a preseason game is different, he said.
''Because I'm practicing,'' he said. ''When you practice, you're getting ready for a game. The only difference is we're not tackling to the ground. I'm still hitting people. I'm still running through tackles in the 9-on-7 drills. So I don't think it'll hurt that much.''