FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Jets fans got some good news Tuesday when Matt Forte, the team’s No. 1 running back, practiced for the first time in nearly a month.
Forte, who suffered a Grade 1 hamstring injury July 31 in the third practice of training camp, said he felt good when he left the field. So good that he predicted he will be ready to go for Week 1 against Buffalo and might even play this weekend against the Giants.
“My goal is to be playing on Saturday,” Forte said. “I don’t know what the coach’s plan is, but that’s my goal.”
Forte added he “definitely” will be ready for the season opener.
He didn’t play in the first two preseason games, and Tuesday marked the first time he participated in an 11-on-11 team period since he was injured.
Forte also missed most of training camp last year, his first season with the Jets, with a hamstring injury. He came back for the preseason finale against the Giants and carried the ball 10 times. Last season he was the Jets’ leading rusher, totaling 813 yards and seven touchdowns on 218 carries.
Forte said his injury last season was much worse than this one. “Last year, I had to get a (platelet-rich plasma) injection because there was actually a tear in it,” he said. “This one, there was no tear in it. It was just a strain. It took about the same amount of time to heal up.”
But Forte said this injury took longer to heal than he thought it would. “To get back to full speed, it took a couple weeks, which I wasn’t expecting,” he said. “You can’t predict that type of stuff.”
Apparently, that’s not all you can’t predict. There has been a lot of talk about where the Jets, who are putting in a new offense, might finish. Last year they won only five games. In the spring, Sheldon Richardson “guaranteed” they would do better this year. Richardson revealed Tuesday, however, that he had been told to cool it on the guarantees.
“I got in trouble for saying that,” he said. “So I guess we’ll see. I’m not going to elaborate on that.”
Outsiders don’t think much of the Jets’ chances, with many oddsmakers predicting they will win four games or fewer. While Richardson may not be allowed to make guarantees, Todd Bowles apparently thinks his team is going to be better than most predict.
Bowles made his own prediction during an WFAN appearance Monday when he was asked what he would like to tell Jets fans.
“I would tell them that we’re not going to be a terrible team,” Bowles said. “We’re going to come out there and fight, and blood, sweat and tears will go out to the city and our fans, and we’re going to win more games than everybody ever expected.”
That remains to be seen. But at least with Forte back on the field, the offense might show some improvement.
Notes & quotes: QB Josh McCown, who is presumed to be the Jets’ starter, took only three reps in drills Tuesday, while Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty split the rest. Don’t read anything into it, said Bowles, who has yet to announce his starter. “We’re just evening the reps out,” Bowles said. “He got a lot of reps early. So the other guys are getting a lot of reps now. McCown knows what he’s doing. He can play. So we wanted to give some other guys some experience and some reps.” . . . CB Morris Claiborne (shoulder), TE Jordan Leggett (foot), LB Darron Lee (illness) and DL Anthony Johnson (stinger) sat out practice. None of the injuries is believed to be serious.