Matt Forte's absence from Tuesday's mandatory minicamp didn't surprise anybody. The running back is not under contract and therefore will not be fined for his absence, which is his way of reminding Bears general manager Phil Emery that he feels he deserves a lucrative long-term contract extension.
"It's not an issue for me and it can't be," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "During the course of the year you have guys who aren't here for whatever reason. You coach the guys who can go, who can practice. We've been spending all our time with that.
"I know Matt Forte. I'm sure he's getting ready to go. But, in the meantime, the best thing we can do for the Chicago Bears is just keep this train going, which we've done."
Michael Bush took snaps with the first team in Forte's absence. It is hoped the recently acquired free-agent running back can be the physical runner the Bears have lacked in recent years.
"It's really helping him," Jay Cutler said of Bush getting more work. "He's such a pro. He does things the right way. He comes ready to work. He's a smart guy. He picks up the system quickly. Whenever we get Matt in here he's going to add a different dimension to this offense but right now Mike's doing a great job for us."
The Bears have been focusing on their passing game during minicamp because it's virtually impossible to practice running plays without contact. Still, offensive coordinator Mike Tice likes what he sees from his running backs.
"We love Michael," Tice said. "He's a really good back. You need to have two good backs, and we have two good backs. Of course, we love Matt, and we're excited about having Mike, and we like [Armando Allen], too. We're excited about our blend back there. We think they all complement each other, and they're all going to be able to find their niche and make big plays for us."