By Adam Hoge-

HALAS HALL (CBS) — Charles Tillman was not at practice Thursday as the Bears began their game-prep for the Packers, but the team is still optimistic he will be able to play Monday in Green Bay.

Head coach Marc Trestman said Tillman was excused for family reasons and that he got some work in Thursday morning at Halas Hall before leaving. The cornerback continues to battle a knee issue that has lingered all season.

“Charles is good,” Trestman said. “He did a lot of stuff early today, came out early, I excused him from today for nothing related to injuries, but for family reasons and he’ll be back tomorrow practicing. He did some things before he had to leave.”

Trestman later added that he thinks Tillman will play Monday.

Cutler Watch

Reporters are only permitted to watch the brief individual session at the start of practice, but it’s not hard to see quarterback Jay Cutler improving each day.

Thursday, Cutler, who is still not technically practicing, was even more mobile than he was earlier in the week as he helped with quarterback drills. At one point he jumped up to catch one of Josh McCown’s passes and he was throwing the ball overhand instead of tossing it back underhand.

Cutler also stood with his legs far apart as if to show off the improvement of his groin injury. He was not ruled out for Monday’s game on Thursday’s injury report, but it’s still doubtful he’ll recover that quickly.

Of course, the ever-optimistic Brandon Marshall sees it differently.

“I’m expecting him to be on the field against Green Bay. I’m not ruling out Green Bay,” Marshall said. “I heard coach Trestman talking about doctors and their diagnoses and talking about all that big talk. But we need to get Jay out there for Green Bay. But worst-case scenario, we’ll have him for the Lions.”

Anderson To Handle Defensive Calls

Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said strong side linebacker James Anderson has handled the defensive calls in practice this week, which is something Anderson did in Carolina.

“He’s done it before. Jon (Bostic) is also going to have a role in helping us get lined up. So I think we won’t have any issues,” Tucker said.

Tucker would not confirm if rookie Khaseem Greene will get the start on the weak side in place of Lance Briggs (shoulder), but Blake Costanzo missed practice with a knee injury and Greene was already getting the first looks in practice.

Ready For Rivalry

Monday night’s game will be first-year head coach Marc Trestman’s first experience in the Bears-Packers rivalry and he didn’t downplay the significance of the game.

“Just talking to our players, they have an understanding that this is a traditional rivalry in the NFL, one of the great rivalries,” Trestman said. “Our communities love this part of the season when these teams are playing and we get to do it on Monday night at Lambeau Field and as I said to the guys, if we can’t do it on Monday night in Soldier Field, where else but at Lambeau Field? It’s a great venue, a great stage for two historic organizations so we’re excited about it.”


– Safety Major Wright was limited in practice with a lingering knee issue. Wide receiver Joe Anderson was limited with an abdomen injury.

– Packers linebacker Nick Perry missed practice Thursday with a foot injury. Wide receiver James Jones and tight end Ryan Taylor were limited with knee injuries. Also, as expected, tight end Jermichael Finley (spinal concussion) and linebacker Clay Matthews (thumb) were officially ruled out.

– The Bears have never beat Green Bay at Lambeau Field with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback for the Packers. Former Bears head coach Lovie Smith won his first four games at Lambeau (2004-07), but Rodgers became the quarterback in 2008 and the Bears haven’t won there since.

Adam Hoge covers the Bears for and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.

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