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Matt Forte's injury a bad optic for Jets, but he deserves some slack

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Key veterans getting healthier for Jets (1:10)

ESPN Jets reporter Rich Cimini explains where Darrelle Revis, Matt Forte and Muhammad Wilkerson are in their recovery from injuries and when they could return. (1:10)

It's either a blip on the radar screen or a grim harbinger.

Matt Forte pulled a hamstring before the start of training camp, causing him to miss the first four practices. In most cases, this sort of thing isn't a huge deal, except Forte is a 30-year-old running back. That doesn't necessarily make it a big deal, but it's certainly noteworthy.

The New York Jets made Forte one of their key offseason additions, giving him a three-year, $12 million contract to replace leading rusher Chris Ivory. The early optic isn't great -- an older back already nursing an injury -- but Forte deserves the benefit of the doubt.

We're talking about one of the most durable running backs in the league. Over the last five seasons, Forte has participated in 3,574 offensive plays, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Only one running back has more snaps over that span: LeSean McCoy, at 3,640.

Forte has missed only eight games in eight seasons, including three last season. The man plays; he doesn't sit. He's known around the league for his professionalism and work ethic, so, yes, it's too early to fret about this hamstring thing even though some folks in Chicago probably are snickering in a "we-told-you-so" kind of way.

Forte called it a "minor" injury, saying it doesn't compare to the torn hamstring that felled him in 2009.

"This is a 1, compared to a 10, like a tear," Forte said Sunday after another practice on the sideline.

The Jets are calling it a day-to-day injury, and it makes absolutely no sense to rush him back. The goal is to have him ready for the Sept. 11 regular-season opener, not the Aug. 11 preseason opener. The last thing the Jets need is a setback, as they're already banged up at running back. Khiry Robinson, coming off a broken leg in 2015, still isn't practicing. Bilal Powell, recently signed Bernard Pierce, free-agent signee Dominique Williams and rookie Romar Morris are splitting the reps.

“We’re just taking it slow so I don’t reinjure it,” Forte said. “Hamstrings are tricky. If you reinjure it, then you could be set back longer. Every day I feel a lot better."