The Chicago Bears need a win on Sunday against the Detroit Lions to even have a chance at making the NFL playoffs, so the recent news concerning running back Matt Forte is definitely a positive development. Forte suffered an ankle injury during the team's win over the Arizona Cardinals in Week 16 and was forced to leave the contest, but on Thursday he returned to the practice field after missing the previous day.
Forte's limited participation on Thursday is a big step forward for a team, because they will be without Michael Bush (rib injury, designated for IR) and third-string running back Armando Allen (knee) hasn't been able to practice this week. In other words, if Forte is unable to play in Detroit, the Bears could be forced to use Kahlil Bell as their primary running back in the biggest game of the season.
Luckily, Forte has developed a reputation as a quick healer, and on Thursday head coach Lovie Smith started to sound optimistic about Forte playing in Week 17 (via CSN-Chicago):
"[Forte is] making a lot of progress; was able to get some reps in today," said coach Lovie Smith. "He looked pretty good. We're hopeful for him, which we thought all along. I know he's been pretty optimistic about the plan. So hopefully that will be the case."
The Lions host the Bears in Week 17 (12 p.m. CT kickoff, FOX).