Jay Cutler has always been a big fan of running back Kyle Long, but the quarterback's appreciation for his Bears teammate has never been higher.
Forte enters Week 8 ranked sixth in the NFL in rushing with 507 yards and two touchdowns on 126 carries and fourth in yards from scrimmage with 698.
|Matt Forte enters Week 8 ranked sixth in the NFL in rushing with 507 yards.|
"I wouldn't trade him for anybody else," Cutler said. "He's a three-down back. He does so much protection-wise. He does so much in the passing game. You can line him up in all different scenarios, all different sets. He gets the job done. He's kind of a security blanket for us."
Forte is showing no signs of slowing down, even with his 30th birthday looming in December. In fact, the eight-year veteran is on pace to rush for a career-high 1,352 yards this season.
"The age thing for him, I don't even know if it's relevant," said offensive coordinator Adam Gase. "He's playing at an elite level. He was leading the league in rushing there for a minute. We'll see what happens in the next 10 games, but I'm pretty sure people know we're going to try to get him the ball."
The Bears would like to lighten Forte's workload to keep him fresh, giving rookie Jeremy Langford more carries. But Gase conceded that it's difficult to take the two-time Pro Bowler off the field.
"I have never been around a running back that has been able to do what Matt Forte does as far as being an all-around back, not coming off the field," Gase said.
"You keep trying to find ways to just give him a rest and get those other guys involved. Jeremy does bring something to the table and that whole running back room we really feel like is a great group. But at the same time, you're taking an elite guy off the field.
"We just want to make sure when we do it we're doing it for the right reasons and we've got somebody that can go in and do a good job and make plays for us and make sure that everybody feels comfortable with whoever is going in."
Health update: Inside linebacker Shea McClellin did not practice again Friday and was listed as doubtful on the injury report for Sunday's game against the Vikings.
Left tackle Jermon Bushrod (shoulder), center Hroniss Grasu (neck), defensive lineman Bruce Gaston (illness) and safety Antrel Rolle (ankle) were limited in practice and listed as questionable.
Guard/center Matt Slauson (knee/shoulder), guard Patrick Omameh (ankle) and outside linebacker Pernell McPhee (not injury related) were also limited and listed as probable.
One shy: Cutler will enter Sunday's game needing one touchdown pass to tie Hall of Famer Sid Luckman's all-time Bears record of 137.
Cutler already holds franchise marks for passer rating (84.4), completions (1,734), attempts (2,825), yards (19,956), completion percentage (61.4) and 300-yard games (14).