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Graham: Contract won't affect Forte return

12/5/2011

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Corey Graham does not believe Matt Forte's unresolved contract issue will affect the running back's timetable to return from a Grade 2 MCL sprain.

The reason: Forte played the entire season without a new deal and still compiled 1,487 yards from scrimmage.

Forte suffered a Grade 2 right MCL sprain during the Bears' 10-3 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

"I'm pretty sure, as everybody knows, Matt wants to play football," Bears nickel back/special teams ace Corey Graham said Monday. "He's been in tough situations this whole season. He wanted a contract and didn't get it, but he's still out there every week, battling through injuries and doing what he does. [So with] Matt, I'm pretty sure when he's healthy, he's going to come back. That's who he is. He's a football player, he's a competitor. He wants to play the game; he loves it. I'm sure when he's healthy he's going to come back.

"I can see what you are talking about when you talk about Matt's situation and his career down the line, but I don't think the doctors or our trainers would allow him to come back if he wasn't ready to go. I don't think Matt would think about more long term, if he's healthy and ready to play. I'm pretty sure he's going to play football."

Early indications point toward Forte being sidelined for close to a month. However, Forte has a track record of playing through pain that dates back to his injury-plagued second season in 2009 when he rushed for a career-low 929 yards on 3.6 yards per carry in 16 games.

One route Forte could go to speed up the recovery time is to use regenerative therapy in the form of Platelet Rich Plasma, or PRP injections. The shots are commonly used on athletes to speed up the body's normal healing process by injecting the patient's own blood, which contains a high concentration of platelets and growth factors, into the damaged ligament or tendons.

Golfer Tiger Woods had a PRP procedure performed a few years ago to alleviate discomfort in his surgically repaired knee.

But for at least the next few games, the Bears are expected to be without Forte, the offense's most consistent performer for much of the season.

"It's tough. Matt is an important part of our offense and of our team," Graham said. "We believe in what he can do so it's a tough loss for us, but we got to go out there and find a way to get it done. The next guy has to step up. You wouldn't be on this team if everybody didn't think you could play. When somebody goes down, it just means the next guy has to step up. Kahlil Bell, Marion Barber, they just have to go out there and find a way to get it done."