After an offseason that provided only a glimpse of what the Jets’ new No. 1 running back could do, his buddy Brandon Marshall assured fans that the best of Matt Forte is yet to come.
“The Jets hate when I do this,” Marshall said playfully Tuesday morning on WFAN. “Bruce (Speight), head of PR over there, I know he’s going to hate when I say this, and I’m saying this: But I really think this is the best I’ve ever seen Matt Forte, to be honest.
“His feet are amazing. He’s in shape. It looks like he’s dropped a few pounds. He’s cut up, he’s ripped up. He just looks like he has an extra burst. I don’t know if it’s because he’s been banged up the last couple of years or what. But this guy looks really good and he’s impressing everyone.”
Marshall just set the bar even higher for his close friend and former Bears teammate. Forte, who turns 31 in December, was the Jets’ marquee acquisition this offseason. After giving him a three-year, $12-million deal, the franchise expects big dividends from their new workhouse.
The versatile Forte amassed 8,602 rushing yards and 45 touchdowns, plus 4,116 receiving yards and 19 TDs on 487 catches in eight seasons. But after being hampered by a knee injury last year, he was sidelined for the first half of camp and the first two preseason games because of a hamstring injury. But Marshall, who helped convince Forte to sign with the Jets, isn’t worried about his production.
“The cool thing about this team is we have depth, at every position,” Marshall said. “At the running back position, you have Bilal Powell. I think he looks better this year. I mean, same situation. I don’t know if this guy could have gotten any better. But you have Bilal Powell behind him and this guy’s the No. 1 on many teams, so we’re excited about what everyone’s going to bring to the table. We’re locked and loaded.”
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick already has begun relentlessly text-messaging the offense, according to Marshall.
“There are special looks that we’re working on right now in the red zone. This guy was watching film on Indy against a team we’re not even going to play and he found it. And he sent it over like, ‘This is the look! We’re going to get ’em!’ I’m like, the only problem is, this isn’t the team we’re playing. And he was like: ‘It doesn’t matter. We’re going to get ’em.’ ”
Marshall also expressed confidence in backup quarterbacks Geno Smith and Bryce Petty, saying, “I’m so proud of Geno and Bryce. Those guys are turning into real pros.”
He said the Jets could have a top defense again.
“I think our defense never really lacks confidence,” Marshall said of the unit, which ranked fourth in 2015. “It’s just about being consistent. There’s no reason why this team shouldn’t be able to be one of the top defenses again this year. But those guys have to show up every single day in practice and every single Sunday in between. But we’ll see what happens.
“I’m really excited about them — and not only them, our special teams are so much better. Coach (Brant Boyer) has got those guys flying around . . . To see those guys really dominate this preseason is promising. And we all know how great our offense is. So I don’t have to talk about Fitzpatrick, Eric Decker and Matt Forte. Everyone knows how great those guys are.”
Allen returns. The Jets welcomed back a familiar face: Antonio Allen. The former Texans safety, a seventh-round pick of the Jets in 2012, was signed to the 53-man roster. Allen signed with Houston in March and was released Saturday. He had 110 tackles, 13 passes defensed and an interception in 38 games with the Jets from 2012-14. He missed last season with a torn Achilles tendon . . . .The Jets released OLB Trevor Reilly off injured reserve with an injury settlement. . . . The Jets filled all 10 spots on the practice squad by signing CB Dexter McDougle, S Ronald Martin and RB Dominique Williams after waiving them Sunday. Former Browns RB Raheem Mostert also was signed to the practice squad. TE Brian Parker, claimed from the Chiefs, was waived (failed physical).