Matt Forte medically cleared

Updated: January 19, 2012, 5:35 PM ET
By Jeff Dickerson | ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO -- Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte has been cleared to participate in the upcoming Pro Bowl after his injured knee checked out OK during a team administered physical, the club announced on Thursday.

Forte missed the final four games of the regular season after he suffered a sprained right medial collateral ligament during the Bears' home loss to Kansas City on Dec. 4. The tailback finished the year with 1,487 yards from scrimmage, good enough numbers to earn Forte his first-ever spot on the NFC Pro Bowl roster.

The running back made it clear that he planned to play in the Pro Bowl, if possible, despite his knee injury and current contract status.

Some questioned why Forte would risk additional injury by playing in the Pro Bowl, given his impending unrestricted free agency. Forte and the Bears were unable to reach an agreement on a contract extension before Forte's rookie deal expired at the end of the regular season. However, the team is expected to place the franchise tag on their leading rusher in the event a new deal is unable to be finalized in the offseason.

"I can get injured walking out the door, so the Pro Bowl, it's my first time making it, I want to be on the field," Forte said on Jan. 2. "So you can't worry about injuries all the time."

Later that day, Bears coach Lovie Smith said he agreed with Forte's decision.

"If Matt wants to play in the Pro Bowl, I'm all for him playing in the Pro Bowl," Smith said. "I think it's special when you get voted by your peers, to go to your first Pro Bowl."

The Pro Bowl will take place in Hawaii on Jan. 29.

Jeff Dickerson covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.

Jeff Dickerson | email

Chicago Bears beat reporter
Dickerson has been the Bears beat reporter for ESPN Chicago since 2004. He also hosts weeknight radio shows on ESPN 1000.

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