LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- As expected, Matt Forte was not present at the Chicago Bears' second organized team activity on Wednesday, which allowed free agent addition Michael Bush to continue taking first-team reps at running back.
Forte will not report to the Bears until he signs the $7.7 million franchise tag tender the club placed on him in early March, or unless the two sides can negotiate a long-term deal before the July 16 deadline.
At this point, barring a new deal in place, it's unclear when Forte plans to sign the tender. The Pro Bowl tailback could wait until the start of the regular season to rejoin the team and earn the entire balance of the franchise tag amount.
While the Forte situation plays itself out, Bush is busy making the transition from the Oakland Raiders to the Bears, where he is charged with the task of not just learning a new offense, but also meshing with his teammates in the locker room. Bush spent the past four seasons with the Raiders where he started 19 games and rushed for 2,642 yards and 21 touchdowns.
"The transition into the offense, that's not really hard," Bush said. "It's just different words, different terminology, stuff like that. To me, it's about getting the players even more and getting comfortable. Nobody has ever brought up Forte's name or wished he was here or anything to make me feel uncomfortable. But me being me, (I think) Forte needs to come on out so we can get it going. But I know he's got to take care of himself and his family as well.
"(But) it's good (taking the first team reps). I need to make sure I get my craft right so I understand everything I have to do in the offense just in case he's not here, or he's here and goes down. Just need to make sure I'm ready to go."
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler likes what he has seen from Bush.
"Bush is doing a good job out here for us," Cutler said. "We all know what Matt can do for
this offense. We all expect to have Matt at some point. I don't think anybody in this building is really worried about Matt coming in here and doing what we expect him to do. When he gets here, he's going to step right in and fill that void."