Chicago Bears star running back Matt Forte has suffered an ankle injury in the team's Thursday night contest against the Green Bay Packers, and will not return to the game, according to NFL Network's Alex Flanagan.
Meant forte is now out for the rest of this game.— Alex Flanagan (@Alex_Flanagan) September 14, 2012
UPDATE: Monday, September 17 at 11:30 a.m. ET by Adam Wells
Contrary to previous reports, Bears head coach Lovie Smith is telling the media that Forte did not, in fact, suffer a high ankle sprain during Thursday's loss at Green Bay.
Via ESPN Chicago:
"Matt did go down with an ankle injury. It's not a high ankle sprain, as has been reported," Smith said on WBBM (780-AM). "But right now, you know when you don't finish the game and he still has some soreness, we'll continue to monitor it, but we felt we needed another running back here, that's why we brought back a guy who knows our system and has played good ball for us in Kahlil Bell."
An ankle sprain would likely keep Forte out for at least a game, though the fact that the Bears have a long week does help his recovery.
We saw what happens to the Bears running game without Forte, so the team will do everything necessary to make sure that he is healthy and productive as soon as possible.
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UPDATE: Friday, September 14 at 10:55 a.m. ET by Timothy Rapp
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com has verified Forte's high ankle sprain but, as suspected, the duration of time Forte will miss remains unknown:
Yes, fantasy owners and Bears fans, this means it is conceivable that Forte could play in a week-and-a-half against the St. Louis Rams. Still, with Michael Bush available, there isn't any reason to rush Forte back.
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UPDATE: Friday, September 14 at 7:40 a.m. ET by Timothy Rapp
A prognosis for the ankle injury that Forte suffered last night is in, and it's not good news. From Adam Schefter of ESPN:
The Bears believe running back Matt Forte suffered a high ankle sprain Thursday night vs. Green Bay, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 14, 2012
While it remains uncertain how severe the sprain was or when Forte might return, I think you could accurately set the time table for his return for anywhere between a week and a month. Unofficially, I'm going to list him as doubtful for the Bears' tilt in a week-and-a-half against the St. Louis Rams.
Forte was up and walking on the ankle, so I'm going to guess the sprain isn't severe. But he is a running back, and he simply won't be effective if his ankle isn't at 100 percent. Keep it here for updates as they become available.
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Forte had been having a marvelous game against the Packers, accounting for 80 total yards, before injuring himself on a 14-yard reception midway through the third quarter.
Though the full nature of the injury is unknown at the moment, he was looked at by the Bears training staff on the sideline and attempted to work through the injury. However, he had visible trouble with cutting, according to Flanagan, and was taken to the locker room.
If this is simply a minor sprain, Forte should be able to return next week against the St. Louis Rams. Because this is a Thursday night game, the 26-year-old will have a full nine days to recover before suiting up again next Sunday.
However, if Forte turns out to have a high ankle sprain, this could be a long-term injury.
Forte, who signed a four-year, $32 million contract this offseason, missed four games in 2011 due to a knee injury, but had not ever missed a game in his three years prior.
Taking Forte's place while he's injured will be Michael Bush, who signed with the Bears in the offseason after four seasons with the Oakland Raiders.
While Bush is an apt replacement, he does not bring Forte's dual threat of rushing and receiving. With the Pro Bowler in the lineup, quarterback Jay Cutler often has a reliable safety valve.
If Forte is out for an extended period of time, entire Chicago offense will need reconfiguring.
That means the next couple of days will consist of the waiting game for both the Bears and Forte's fantasy owners across the nation.