When the Jets signed veteran running back Matt Forte to a three-year, $12 million deal, back in March, it was lauded as a solid free-agent signing with the potential for great results.
Forte was brought in to help offset the loss of last year’s starter, Chris Ivory, to free agency. He also possesses an ideal skill-set with an emphasis on catching the football out of the backfield.
We fast forward to the present, and here we are, one week into the preseason … Matt Forte has yet to participate in a full Jets training camp practice.
Forte’s been sidelined with a hamstring injury, suffered before the start of camp, and has reportedly participated in some individual drills, however he has yet to take part in team drills.
“Individuals don’t impress me, “said Jets head coach Todd Bowles. “if you’re practicing, you’re practicing. If you’re not, you’re not. Whether it’s individuals, inside, outside, I just wait for guys to start to practice.”
The 30-year old former Chicago Bear is a key component in the Jets offensive gameplan this season, however, as the days go by, the possibility of Forte not playing in the preseason is becoming increasingly real.
Bowles, when asked if Forte’s not practicing hurts the cohesion of the offense, wasn’t ready to reach any conclusions.
“Not right now no, it’s camp,” said Bowles. Guys are going to get nicked up, guys are going to miss some time. If we could have him back in time enough to get some reps in before the first game, then we’ll work from there.”
Forte isn’t expected to play in the Jets second preseason game, against the Washington Redskins.
The smart play here for the Jets may just be to hold him out of the preseason entirely and have him ready to go for week 1 in September.
“When he’s back, he’s back,” Bowles said. “I don’t have a timetable for him. We understand the process we’re taking with him, and we’re fine with it.”
Forte is a veteran and he knows his body, he’s been through enough NFL Training Camps and preseasons to know what he’ll need to do in order to be ready for when the games actually get.
Yes, getting some on-field chemistry established with his fellow teammates, along with a few reps, is important, however the Jets have invested heavily in Forte for what he can do in the regular season, when the games count. They’re wise to continue proceeding with caution on his return.