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Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Black and Blue all over: Forte's workload


Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

It was interesting to read the Bears coverage Wednesday morning in Chicago's two major newspapers.

Mike Mulligan of the Chicago Sun-Times chronicled the high number of carries for rookie tailback Matt Forte this season. Meanwhile, Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune profiled backup tailback Kevin Jones -- who just happens to be facing his former team Sunday in Detroit.

Is it time for Jones to start easing Forte's load? That might not be a bad idea for the long haul, assuming the Bears are comfortable with Jones' recovery from offseason knee surgery.

Forte has an NFL-high 92 carries in four games, six more than Kansas City's Larry Johnson, and also leads the Bears with 18 receptions. Forte is on pace to rush 368 times this season, putting him dangerously close to the 370 mark that historically has caused problems for running backs. Mulligan details a study by Football Outsiders that suggests tailbacks who get at least 370 carries in a season face a greater risk for injury and typically see their production the following year drop by 35 percent.

Enter Jones, who has 71 yards on 20 carries this season. Players who tear an ACL typically need a full year to return to their previous strength, but there is some hope that he will be able to provide more consistent relief for Forte. On Sunday, Jones will face the Lions and said: "Most of all I want to beat them. No way I want their first win to be on us."

Elsewhere around the NFC North: