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No Pro Bowl, but Bears’ Matt Forte can make history Sunday

Matt Forte needs eight catches Sunday to set the NFL’s single-season record for receptions by a running back.

It sounds like one of those obscure NFL marks — Cardinals fullback Larry Centers caught 101 passes in 1995 — until you listen to one of Forte’s blockers.

“I know I’m gonna be yelling at our quarterback to throw him the ball,” guard Kyle Long said Wednesday at Halas Hall. “Are you kidding me? What a tremendous honor to get to play with a guy like Matt — and have an opportunity to be a part of something like that, that will stand for a really long time.”

As usual, Forte is saying the proper thing: Setting the record isn’t high on his list of priorities in the season finale against the Vikings.

He appreciates the record and knows his offensive teammates would, too, but he says, “I’m not going to go out looking to get eight catches.”

No man is more respected in the Bears’ locker room, and that made the news of Forte’s Pro Bowl snub much more disappointing.

Long is the Bears’ only representative.

“There’s not a better person on our team,” Long said. “In terms of a guy who does it the right way, leads by example. From Bible study to blitz pick-up meetings, Matt Forte is the professional, the elite in our locker room, and he’s somebody that I try to … [I] mold myself after you on a daily basis.”

No running back has more receiving yards than Forte’s 785 — on 94 catches — though nine can top his 987 rushing yards.

Offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said Forte “had the statistics to do it” and that the Bears were disappointed he wasn’t named to the Pro Bowl.

“At the same time, the numbers are there at running back for a lot of people,” Kromer said. “And it just becomes a numbers game sometimes.”

The six Pro Bowl running backs chosen Tuesday were the Steelers’ Le’Veon Bell, the Chiefs’ Jamaal Charles, the Texans’ Arian Foster, the Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch, the Eagles’ LeSean McCoy and the Cowboys’ DeMarco Murray.

“The running backs that were picked, they’re really good, too,” Forte said. “I’ve been twice. So I’m not really too crazy about not being picked or people think I deserve it and all that stuff.

“I’m not a big stats guy. I go to work every day and then let everything else take care of itself. I’m a teamwork guy. I like to see everybody succeed.

“I do think [tight end] Martellus [Bennett] should have made it, though.”

Being 5-10 didn’t help either man’s case.

“Whenever you lose a lot of games,” quarterback Jay Cutler said, “I think it makes it harder to get into the Pro Bowl.”

The record is in play Sunday, even as coach Marc Trestman said he clearly is more worried about trying to win the game than attempting to get Forte eight catches.

“I’ve got a chance to do something special this week,” Forte said.

“Obviously, I’m focused on winning the game.”

Email: pfinley@suntimes.com

Twitter: @patrickfinley