Matt Forte being 'mentally strong'

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte refuses to let contract negotiations affect how he carries out business on the field.

Forte made that clear Tuesday, adding that he's "satisfied that there's progress" in the negotiations between his representatives and the team on a new contract.

"They've been negotiating since the first time we talked about that. They're still negotiating," Forte said. "It's not really difficult for me (to block out the business side of football). Maybe it's different for other people, but I can go out there and focus on football. You've got to be mentally strong to play this game, and deal with some of this other stuff. So I just block out everything when I'm on the field. I don't think about anything but making a big play."

Scheduled to earn $550,000 in base salary in the final year of his original rookie deal, Forte clearly has outperformed that contract by virtue of his consistent numbers. Forte ranks No. 5 in the NFL in yards from scrimmage since 2008, when the Bears used a second-round pick to select him.

It's a fact that hasn't gone unnoticed by teammates.

As Forte addressed his contract situation outside the dining hall at Olivet Nazarene University on Tuesday, Bears kicker Robbie Gould walked by joking that Forte "wants to be paid like a playmaker."

Teammate Lance Briggs, meanwhile, said he empathizes with Forte's situation.

"I just take a different stance because I've been there," Briggs said Monday on "The Carmen, Jurko & Harry Show" on ESPN 1000. "I know what he's going through, and I know some of the frustrations he's going through. I understand. It's a business, and he can be cut at any time. They can take that money away from him. On the flip side, he has to protect himself."

Forte certainly could have done that Saturday in the preseason opener by electing not to play against the Bills, which is something the running back considered privately. But rather than stir up controversy, Forte suited up and played against the Bills, taking two snaps of action with the starters before he was pulled in favor of backups Chester Taylor and Marion Barber.

"He deserves a deal," Briggs said. "He's earned the right to a bigger contract. He's outplayed the contract he currently has, and it's time for the organization to do right by the player."

By all indications, it appears the Bears are headed in that direction, and it's not a stretch to think the sides could consummate a new deal before the start of the regular season.

Forte expects his workload Monday night against the Giants to increase somewhat, just as it did in the second preseason game of last season. But don't expect Forte to make any issue about the progress of negotiations in the immediate future.

"Like I said, you've got to be mentally strong to play this game," Forte said. "It's just like football, if something bad happens -- you drop a pass or you do something wrong on a play -- you've got to forget about it and continue to play. You can't keep thinking about it. You continue to play football, and forget about everything else."

Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.