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There is a sense of calm about Matt Forté that doesn't break, even though he feels underpaid and underappreciated by the Bears' front office.
Take him away from Chicago's offense, and it's left with an injured and worn-down Marion Barber at running back, a nondescript collection of receivers lacking a true No. 1 and an offensive line that struggles to keep QB Jay Cutler upright.
Forté, in the final year of his rookie contract, wants a new deal and thought he would have one by now, but he's even-keeled while discussing his frustration.
He didn't hold out of training camp to try to pressure the Bears into granting his request for a raise. He doesn't raise his voice above its usual hushed tone when he explains his disappointment. Instead, he's channeling that frustration on the field. He has accounted for 44.4 percent of the Bears' total yardage, gaining more than 70 percent of his yards through the air, and, while it's early, this might turn out to be the best season of his career.
"It motivates me a lot," Forté said. "I've always been highly motivated by myself, anyway. Just the fact that there are naysayers out there and people who don't think that I'm as good as I am, I really don't care what they say. I go out there and play football like I'm the best running back every week."
Since he entered the league in 2008, only Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson and Maurice Jones-Drew have more yards from scrimmage than Forté's 5,137. No back has more receiving yards than Forté (1,782) since '08.
"It's pretty simple to me," Forté said. "If you look at production, usually guys get paid off of their production. You look at their production and what level that's on and you look at some guys who produce similarly and see what they get paid. It's not that hard.
"Obviously, somebody doesn't believe I'm an elite running back."
You can read the remainder of this article — which describes how Forté stacks up against one of Martz's famous former pupils, as well as what his coaches and teammates are saying about him — by ordering a copy of the current issue of Pro Football Weekly. The digital edition — which contains the entire Forté article, a 16-page section identifying the top pro prospects among the college senior class, an analysis of which teams might be in the hunt for the projected 2012 first overall draft choice, Stanford QB Andrew Luck, and much more — can be purchased at the PFWstore.com.