The ground game has not changed, and protection schemes have remained pretty much the same with a twist in terminology. Forte is up to speed with some new routes in the passing game as he spends the special-teams periods of practice working with Jay Cutler and quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates.
"We have some really good stuff," Forte said. "It's coming to me really good."
A word that many use when talking about the new offense is "explosive," and that starts with Forte. He was second in the NFL with 12 carries of 20 or more yards last season, and offensive coordinator Mike Tice defines an "explosive" run as any rush of 12 or more yards. Forte had 25 of those — more than two per game, as he missed the final month. That helped him to a career-best 4.9-yard average per run.
Tice considers an "explosive" pass a completion of 16 yards or more. Forte had 10, making him one of the top all-purpose backs in the league.
Forte will remain a significant part of the passing attack, although he's unlikely to lead the team in receptions as he did the last two seasons. That doesn't mean he's going to be any less involved.
"The first thing we're going to do is try to protect the quarterback instead of looking for hot routes," Forte said. "So we're going to seal it up front so Jay can find the open guy. There are free release routes and things like that, and then there are times I am going to be in there blocking."
In a more balanced offense with the addition of wide receiver Brandon Marshall, the Bears are counting on the running game being more open. Opponents should not be able to dare Cutler to beat them and gang up on the running game. That should mean more opportunities for big plays the back had with regularity last season.
"Matt is going to have plenty of opportunities to be explosive in our offense," Tice said. "Not only running the ball but catching it."
At the goal line, plans are for 245-pound Michael Bush to get the bulk of the work. That is how the team lined up in goal-line drills early last week, and Tice and Spencer said the newcomer would get the chances near the end zone.
"When Spencer and (tight ends coach Mike) DeBord do a study, who is successful in short yardage and goal line and why, it's the guy who can move the pile," Tice said. "We have one of those guys."
Naturally, that isn't what the 218-pound Forte wants to hear. But his primary motivation is winning, and he says if it means he needs to have longer runs to reach the end zone, that is what he will do. Forte had three rushing scores last season, while Marion Barber had six. Forte got 12 carries inside the 10-yard line, gaining 10 yards. Barber had 11 carries inside the 10, gaining 24 yards. With the Raiders last season, Bush had 22 carries inside the 10 for 23 yards and seven touchdowns.
"I expect to play once we get down there," Forte said. "It's a team sport. As long as we get the final goal, which is scoring a touchdown, it doesn't matter.
"I know fantasy people probably don't like that. It was kind of aggravating during the contract situation when people would bring it up, 'Well, you can't score on the goal line.' I wasn't in the game on the goal line. Like I say, if I'm not going to play on the goal line, I just have to score from far out."
Spencer understands Forte never wants to come off the field. But it's his job to make sure they have fresh legs in the game, especially in the fourth quarter. Otherwise, they'll fit the players to the roles they play best.
"If you're a good back, you have confidence in your ability, as Matt does," Spencer said. "We know the best guy for the purpose."