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'Just a toe,' but Forte knows it's crucial
By Bob LeGere | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 12/17/2008 12:04 AM

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Rookie running back Matt Forte, who has accounted for an NFL-high 35.19 percent of his team's yards from scrimmage, said he expected to be 100 percent for Monday night's nationally televised game against the Packers.

Forte, who did not participate in the Bears' extremely brief Tuesday morning practice, said the injury to his right big toe isn't serious but added that it's in an area that is crucial at his position.

"I just (need) to get rest on it, and when you have treatment (scheduled) you have to go to it," Forte said. "A lot of people think it's just a toe, but a toe's very important when you're a running back because you have to make cuts and things like that."

Forte is eighth in the NFL with 1,115 rushing yards and needs 69 more to surpass the team record of 1,183 rushing yards by a rookie set in 2001 by Anthony Thomas.

Forte was injured on the Bears' first play from scrimmage Thursday night against the Saints and missed about a quarter before returning - which he said was important.

"It was a big game, and I was looking forward to it," he said. "Unfortunately, things happen like that, you get hurt on the first carry. (But) it was good for me to go back out there and play the rest of the game."

Happy returns: When Danieal Manning returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown against the Saints, he became the first Bear to do so in the regular season since Ron Smith went 94 yards for a TD on Dec. 17, 1972 at Oakland.

Manning leads the NFL with a 29.5-yard kickoff-return average although he didn't become the Bears' primary kick returner until five games ago.

"We're winning, that's the most important thing," Manning said. "When I go out there, my goal is to give the offense good field position. Other than that, touchdowns and everything after that are just bonuses. Hopefully I can get more bonuses."

Cheese hater: Sometimes it seems the rivalry with the Packers is more important to the fans than the players, but defensive end Adewale Ogunleye said he hates the Packers, too.

"The fans won't like you if you don't, so I hate the Packers," Ogunleye said. "I want all the Bears fans to know I hate the Packers. It's a big rivalry and after losing the way we did up there (37-3), it makes it even more of a heated battle. I can't wait. I really, really want to try to settle the score and at least go 1-1 against the Packers."