Backup quarterback Josh McCown will make his fourth straight start Monday night -- against the Cowboys at Soldier Field -- but he's not taking anything for granted.
After all, he hasn't started that many consecutive games in six years and, before this season, he had just 33 starts in 10 NFL seasons.
"One of the things we say all the time is, 'Don't let familiarity rob you of your joy,'" McCown said. "So not getting comfortable or taking any of these games for granted is the key for me.
"I appreciate being out there, and if you appreciate being out there, you're going to put your best effort forward because you don't know when it will be your last time. It's definitely with an appreciative attitude that I take the field and enjoy playing."
McCown came in with a hot hand in relief of Jay Cutler in Week 7, compiling a 119.6 passer rating and throwing for 204 yards in 2½ quarters. He's never cooled off, posting passer ratings over 90.0 in each of the six games he's played and topping 100 four times for a cumulative 103.6, seventh best in the NFL.
"You kind of go into it expecting it and then it continued to happen over and over and over," said Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer. "He works extremely hard at it. He's in the office constantly. He's there late. I don't know if he ever goes home. So I think that makes a big difference."
Typically, McCown gives a lot of the credit for his consistent production to the system and his teammates.
"It's just preparation," he said. "It's the way that we go about every day so that the coaches prepare us. We work as players together. So, for me, it's just functioning within what's been set up for us to do and just trying to do my job and make the plays that are there to be made. That's really it. It's the guys around (me). It's the play calls.
"If you put the work in, you've (given) yourself a chance to have some success and play some good ball."
Still good as Gould:
Bears special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis said he never had to devise an emergency contingency plan last week, even though kicker Robbie Gould's wife delivered their first child early Sunday morning and he arrived just a few hours before game time.
"He kept telling me he was coming so I wasn't worried about it at all," DeCamillis said. "What a great deal for him to have that happen. What a pro he was. He even said throughout the whole thing, 'J.D., I'm going to be there. Don't worry about it.'"
Gould, who came into that game as the second-most-accurate field-goal kicker in NFL history, missed a 47-yard field goal in overtime that would have reversed the outcome of a 23-20 Bears loss. The whirlwind of events left Gould emotional after the game, as he accepted blame for the defeat. But DeCamillis isn't worried about Gould suffering any lingering after effects.
"The reason he took it hard was because he cares," the coach said. "He's won a lot of games for people around here. Two weeks before he won a game for us (with a 38-yard field goal in overtime vs. the Ravens). It's just one of those things that he's going to come back from. I've got my money on him next time it comes up, that's for sure."
Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker was especially animated and vocal during last week's game -- at least it appeared that way on TV.
"That's what my mother-in-law told me when I walked in the door later that night," he said. "But I'm not sure what play you're talking about. I try to only raise my voice in enthusiasm, so we were enthusiastic at that point."
Tucker seemed to be really "enthusiastic" on a couple different occasions after his defense allowed long runs by Adrian Peterson, who piled up 211 yards on the day.
Quarterback Jay Cutler (ankle) and linebacker Lance Briggs (shoulder) will not play Monday night. Briggs did not practice, but Cutler got some limited practice time outside, and coach Marc Trestman said he did not show any adverse effects from the work he did Thursday.
Safety Anthony Walters (groin) was limited, while wide receiver Brandon Marshall (quadriceps), safety Major Wright (hamstring) and guard Kyle Long all had full participation.
For the Cowboys, starting cornerback Morris Claiborne (hamstring) did not practice for the second straight day.