"Forte is such a dynamic and versatile player who accounted for such a significant amount of the Bears production in the past that losing him will affect the team as a whole," said an NFC defensive assistant familiar with the Bears. "(But Michael) Bush is a capable replacement with different skill sets.
There are some misconceptions about what missing Forte could mean, such as:
• The Bears will shy away from the run.
Last season when the Bears were without Forte the last four games, they averaged 34 carries per game — eight more than they did with Forte. Of course, they also were without Jay Cutler in those games.
• The Bears will be incapable of running.
The Bears know how to run without Forte. Bush already has carried the ball three times more than Forte (for 15 fewer yards).
Without Forte in 2011, the Bears averaged 145.5 yards per game and 4.3 yards per carry. With him, they averaged 119/4.5.
• The types of runs the Bears call will not change.
No matter the company line is, it makes sense to highlight what Bush does best, which is different from what Forte does best.
"Forte is effective running the zone schemes, gap schemes and draws, and he creates explosive production in the pass game with route running and screens," the assistant said. "Bush will provide a downhill run element so that will be close to a wash."
• The passing game will be unaffected.
Forte is a huge factor in the passing game, and it's likely the Bears will miss him more as a receiver and pass protector than as a runner.
At the time of his injury last season, Forte was leading the Bears in receptions and second in receiving yards. This year, even with the added receiving weapons and missing most of the second half against the Packers, he is the team's second leading receiver in catches and yards.
Bush will be able to catch the dump-offs. What he won't be able to do is run the kinds of routes, make the kinds of catches and make defenders miss in the open field like Forte can.
How the Bears compensate for Forte's absence could have a significant impact in how this game plays out.
Comprehend the trend: Hester package
After two games, it is becoming evident what the mysterious "Devin Hester Package" is.
It consists of playing Hester approximately 40 percent of the offensive snaps, as he has done in the first two games combined (32 against the Colts and 20 against the Packers).
Hester has only four touches on offense, but the idea is to get him the ball more on screens, downfield passes and handoffs. The feeling is he will get more chances against the Rams.