Jets' Forte playing on '1 leg,' but plans to continue career
By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
Dec. 29, 2017
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Matt Forte has no intentions of calling it a career, even if his body has limited his production.
The New York Jets running back, who turned 32 on Dec. 10, has been dealing with swelling in his surgically repaired right knee for a large portion of the season. Forte has a career-low 381 yards rushing on just 103 carries.
"When I was healthy and got the opportunities, I think I produced at a decent level," Forte said Thursday. "Since the bye week, I've been basically playing on one leg, so that's been tough and obviously that hinders your production level."
Forte had arthroscopic surgery on the knee at the end of last season to repair a torn meniscus. He missed the Jets' last game before the bye-week break at Tampa Bay on Nov. 12, but has played in every game since — running for 140 yards on 46 carries, an average of just over 3 yards per attempt.
Since signing with New York in 2016, Forte has 1,194 yards rushing and nine touchdowns, along with 67 catches for 556 yards and two scores.
"Not up to standards," Forte said of his play the past two seasons. "Every year, you go into a year, as a running back, you want to rush for 1,000. Since last year, it's just been a little bit rough. Had a few nagging injuries here and there, and one that kept me out at the end of last year."
Forte has not practiced this week, and his status for the season finale at New England is uncertain. He hasn't participated in team drills the past few weeks but has still played in games.
"I was trying to go out there and make things happen," Forte said, "because we were still in playoff contention and had some games coming up."
He had eight carries for 19 yards and a 7-yard catch in the 14-7 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers last week.
Forte has a year remaining on his contract, but it's uncertain if he'll be brought back by New York. He's due to make $3 million next year, but there's no guaranteed money tied to the deal and the Jets could clear the amount on the salary cap.
"My contract is for three years and this was the second year of it, so I'm under contract," he said. "What they do with that is not in my control. That's why I say I can control what I can control, which is being as healthy as I can be and getting that way in the offseason."
Forte added that he would like to return next season to the Jets because he likes where the franchise stands right now despite a 5-10 season.
"The sky's the limit," Forte said. "I think we're building something here. It takes time to grow. A lot of people in this era look at it like a microwave. You put something in for two minutes and, bang, it's ready. But when you want to grow something great or you want to do something beyond expectations, it's going to take time to grow that."
Forte reiterated that it's out of his hands whether he's back in the Jets' backfield next season, but also said he doesn't need additional surgery on his knee. He needs rest and an offseason to get back into top health.
"I mean, I've been running the ball for 10 years, so you have wear and tear, and sometimes joints get overworked and then swell up at any time in the year," Forte said. "If you're playing every week on it, it goes down a little bit but after you play, it's going to swell up."
Forte said the Jets have a good mix of veterans and young players, who have gotten lots of playing experience this season. He also appreciates the environment coach Todd Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan have cultivated.
"What we did locker room-wise in trying to create a culture and create a standard that nobody's supposed to dip below," he said. "And just create a culture of professionalism in everything you do, in how you approach the game, how you approach the game and how you approach practice and how you approach preparing for the game."
NOTES: WR Jermaine Kearse (ankle), TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (ribs, foot), RT Brandon Shell (concussion) and DE Leonard Williams (back) all didn't practice. WR Robby Anderson (illness), CB Morris Claiborne (foot) and LB Jordan Jenkins (ankle, shoulder) were limited. Bowles wasn't ready to rule anyone out to play. ... Bowles mentioned NT Steve McLendon and OL Dakota Dozier as players he thinks have been the most improved this season.