The Bears' defense is better than the Bears' offense, and that's just how it is and how it's going to be, according to quarterback Jay Cutler.
"We're not going to catch the defense this year," he said. "It's not going to happen. We're 8-9 years behind those guys.
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"They've been in the same system a long time, so we just have to focus on ourselves and every guy just has to get a little bit better each week, every day at practice, and by the end of the season we'll be better."
Cutler refuted the silly notion that he was "carrying" the Bears.
"I'm just trying to do my job," he said. "The way our defense is playing, I'm just trying to minimize turnovers, trying to convert on third down and protect the ball and make smart decisions in the red zone.
"We're running the ball well and the offensive line's getting better and better. As they get better, it's going to open up more doors as far as what we're able to do in the passing game and kind of open my game a little bit."
Cutler's 85.3 passer rating is higher than it has been since Week 1 (98.9). He still ranks 18th in the NFL, although he is 12-1 in his last 13 games as a starter.
Charles Tillman's wife is due soon with the couple's fourth child, which could affect his availability for Sunday night's game at Soldier Field against the Houston Texans.
He has a plan, although he declined to offer specifics. But coach Lovie Smith has encouraged players to place family before football.
"At the end of the day that's all you have," Tillman said. "This game is important to me. But after what we went through with my middle child Tiana, to me football is second. It'll always be second or third in my life.
"That was a great lesson learned to teach me that when I'm done playing football, my family will always be there for me."
Tiana Tillman was born in the summer of 2008 and had to overcome severe medical problems as a baby.
"It's family first," Smith said. "If there's something you feel like you need to do for your family, always do that. How we look at it is like an injury. If a player can't go, it's next guy up, and we'll keep going."
If Tillman were unavailable, the next guy up would be Kelvin Hayden, who has been getting more time at the nickel cornerback spot lately.
The winners are:
Brian Urlacher won his sixth NFC defensive player of the week award after returning an interception 46 yards for a touchdown, forcing a fumble and recovering a fumble Sunday at Tennessee.
Cornerback Sherrick McManis was named NFC special-teams player of the week after blocking a punt (returned five yards for a touchdown by Corey Wootton) and adding 2 tackles.
The interception return was the fifth touchdown of Urlacher's career (2 interception returns, 2 fumble returns and 1 receiving TD).
Defensive tackles Henry Melton (back) and Matt Toeaiana (calf) and defensive end Israel Idonije (ankle) all were limited at Wednesday's practice.
Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (hand) did not practice but is "definitely" getting better, according to coach Lovie Smith.
Former college teammates and first-round draft picks Gabe Carimi of the Bears and J.J. Watt of the Texans will face each other Sunday night at Soldier Field, much as they did in practice for four years during their stellar careers at Wisconsin.