Jay Cutler has not lost his fastball.
That's the good news. The bad news is he's not suiting up Monday night against the Cowboys, although he was able to practice on a limited basis Thursday afternoon inside the Walter Payton center.
In the brief portion of practice that the media is allowed to observe, Cutler threw with plenty of zip. But he isn't ready yet to elude pass rushers because of the high ankle sprain that has kept him out of the previous three games.
"He's still progressing," coach Marc Trestman said. "He's worked very, very hard to get to this point."
Josh McCown, who is seventh in the NFL with a 103.6 passer rating, took all the first-team snaps at practice. Cutler is 15th with a 88.4 passer rating.
Trestman could not speculate on Cutler's availability for Week 15 against the Browns in Cleveland, although he was able to run lightly at practice without a limp. He reiterated that there are no plans to shut Cutler down for the season.
"We want to be very, very careful," he said. "I was encouraged just by the work that he got in, considering the injury wasn't that long ago. I thought he threw the ball very, very well."
Middle linebacker Lance Briggs also will not play Monday night, the sixth straight game that he has missed with a fractured shoulder. The most optimistic prognosis for Briggs' return, when he was first injured, was for the Cowboys game. But he did not practice at all Thursday, though he ran and worked out.
Dealing with it:
Bears special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis held the same position with the Cowboys for the previous four years, and he has a lot of memories.
One of them occurred in 2009, when, during a windstorm, the team's practice facility collapsed on him and team scout Rich Behm, who was paralyzed from the waist down. DeCamillis suffered multiple back injuries, including a fractured vertebrae.
"I guess I'm a little stiffer (now)," DeCamillis said. "That's all. It's hard for me to turn my neck. Everything is an opportunity for you. You learn to deal with adversity all the time. We ask the players to deal with adversity. I had some adverse times. Hopefully I've come out on the other side of it and keep going from there.
"People deal with different things all the time, and I'm fortunate enough to be able to still keep doing what I want to do. That's how I look at it."
Martellus Bennett was chosen by the Cowboys in the second round of the 2008 draft. But the Bears' tight end is not as concerned with facing his old team as he is with looking good on national TV Monday night.
"I like to be the only game on TV," Bennett said. "It's kind of fun when everybody's watching you in the world. You want to be in that Monday night game, so I'm super excited about it.
"I'll make sure I've got some nice shoes on and my uniform looks right before the game starts so I look good on TV. I'll make sure I'm a little bit slimmer, you know. Try to be a tight end with a tight end."
Wide receiver Brandon Marshall (quadriceps) did not practice Thursday. Safeties Anthony Walters (groin) and Major Wright (hamstring) were limited. Guard Kyle Long, who had a sprained ankle during Sunday's game, went through a full practice.
For the Cowboys, starting cornerback Morris Claiborne (hamstring) did not practice.