Consider this a break from the usual for Matt Forté.
After all, the Chicago Bears running back is not accustomed to teammates whose height fails to reach his armpits. Or even his hips.
Forté, a Slidell High product preparing for his seventh NFL season, is usually on the other end of handoffs and passes. For his career, Forté has compiled 6,666 career rushing yards with 35 touchdowns and 341 catches for 2,919 yards and another 12 scores.
On Friday morning, he played quarterback, showing off his spirals with about 40 kids at a football camp — an event he co-hosted with Lester Ricard, his former Tulane teammate and best friend who is entering his first season as football coach at St. Martin’s Episcopal in Metairie.
Their message: Good things happen to good people. Keep being good young men — athletically, socially and in the classroom.
The middle school-age participants weathered early rain and a soggy field to learn lessons of perseverance and good behavior from Ricard and Forté, a two-time Pro Bowler. Grant Jordan and Jamon Toney, both 12, earned camp MVP honors.
“It was just amazing,” Jordan said. “The main thing (we learned was) hard work and when you get tired, push through.”
Asked whether Forté was a better running back than quarterback, Jordan said: “He’s probably the best of both.”
Forté was impressed by his pint-sized teammate.
“(Jordan) did every drill full-speed,” Forté said. “Each station was about 10 minutes long, and there was about six stations. From the first station on to the last station, you couldn’t tell if it was his first one or his last one. In two games, he probably caught five, six touchdowns to lead his team to the championship.”
Both Jordan and Toney earned a signed football from Forté.
Toney said he plans to frame his, along with an autographed picture with him, Ricard and Forté.
“I like that he’s from here and he made it so far up in the league, and he’s so good,” Toney said. “It tells me anybody from here can make it.”
That’s part of the message Ricard wanted to share with the kids.
“Hopefully we can build on this in the future and make this a much bigger camp,” Ricard said. “The kids loved him. You couldn’t have asked for a much better turnout.”
“We all know the youngsters need goals to work towards,” he said. “And if we give them that, we’ll get success out of them.”
The Bears finished last season 8-8, out of the playoffs. His offensive coordinator, now entering his second year, is former Saints offensive line coach Aaron Kromer.
“It will more comfortable for everybody since it’s the second year of (the offense),” Forté said. “Last year, it being the first year in the offense, you needed to figure out what we do best in it. That took about half the season. Then we started rolling and scoring a lot of points toward the end.
“Now we can take off where we left off last year. If we continue to do that, I think we’ll be in good shape.”