During a breakout first season in Chicago, Forte set Bears rookie records with 1,238 yards rushing, 63 receptions and 1,715 total yards from scrimmage.
The second-round draft pick became the first NFL rookie to rush for at least 1,000 yards and catch 50 or more passes since the Chargers’ LaDainian Tomlinson in 2001. Forte also became the first rookie in NFL history to rush for at least 1,000 yards and catch more than 62 passes.
“We had real high expectations on him,” offensive coordinator Ron Turner said late in the season. “But to know that a rookie was going to come in and have the impact that he’s had in all phases, it would be tough to say that.
“We had a lot of confidence in him. We did anticipate him coming in here and having success. But to do everything he’s done as consistently well, I’m not sure we expected that.”
Forte accounted for 34.99 percent of the Bears’ yards from scrimmage in 2008, the highest percentage in the NFL and the sixth highest total by a rookie in the Super Bowl era.
He also became the eighth rookie since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger to lead his team in both rushing yards and receptions.
Forte ranked third in the NFL in yards from scrimmage, trailing only the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson and the Falcons’ Michael Turner, and seventh in the league in rushing.
Forte’s 63 receptions were the most by a NFL running back in 2008, the most by a running back in Bears history and the second most among all rookies regardless of position, trailing only Broncos wide receiver Eddie Royal, who had 91 catches.
Forte rushed for eight touchdowns and caught four TD passes, joining the Eagles’ Brian Westbrook as the only NFL players this season with at least four touchdowns rushing and receiving.
The other nominees for the NFL Diet Pepsi Rookie of the Year award are Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, Titans running back Chris Johnson, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and Texans running back Steve Slaton.