The beginning of the Jeremy Langford Era doesn’t necessarily have to coincide with the end of the Matt Forte Era. But even Forte knows that’s what people are thinking.
Langford has been close to a revelation in two games in place of Forte, who is recovering from a sprained knee. He’s averaging 172 total yards per game — 72.5 rushing, 89.5 receiving —and 7.2 yards per touch. In five games with Jay Cutler at quarterback, Forte is averaging 115.1 total yards and 4.9 yards per touch.
With the 29-year-old Forte carrying a $9.2 million cap hit on the final year of his contract and the 23-year-old Langford carrying a $570,906 cap hit on the first year of a rookie contract, Forte knows he’s not the people’s choice right now.
“The fans are the fans,” Forte said. “The NFL is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately [league]. I’ve been out a few games and Jeremy has done well stepping in for me. So everybody is always looking for the next best thing. With [me] being in my contract year, it’s obvious that that’s the storyline that will come up.
“Chicago is kind of like that: ‘Well, see ya later, Matt.’ I’m like, ‘Man, I’ve been here going on eight years — y’all just going to throw me to the side like that?’ But that’s the nature of the NFL. And I don’t mind. I will play wherever I end up after that.”
Forte sat out Thursday’s practice at the indoor Payton Center after having practiced on a limited basis outdoors Wednesday.
He indicated that it is less likely he’ll play Sunday against the Broncos at Soldier Field, because the Bears play the Packers at Lambeau Field four days later on Thanksgiving night.
“I’ve got to play it smart,” he said. “Say I play Sunday and get banged up a little bit. Thursday’s a really quick turnaround. So I have to talk to the head trainer [Nate Breske] and coach [John] Fox about that.”
As for 2016, Bears general manager Ryan Pace is expected to wait until after the season to make a decision on Forte. Who knows what Langford’s situation will be by then. Or Forte’s.
“I’m not really worried about it,” Forte said, “because I’ll be a free agent at the end of the year. I can continue my career no matter what happens.”