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Rehabbing Derrick Rose says he feels stronger mentally, physically

Updated: November 3, 2012 6:23AM

There wasn’t a noticeable limp. There were no grimaces or signs of discomfort. Mainly there were smiles coming from Bulls guard Derrick Rose on Monday as he made his way around the Berto Center.

“I’m stress-free,” Rose said. “I’m at peace with myself. My health is OK, and no one should be worrying about me.”

But Bulls fans can’t help but worry.

Training camps across the NBA just opened, and Rose is still recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

There’s no timetable for his return during the 2012-13 season or if he’ll return at all during the season.

A smiling Rose, however, exuded confidence. He insisted that he has grown during his rehabilitation — especially his patience as the repetitiveness of the rehab process tests him — and the result might be a better player.

“Mentally, I have gotten stronger,” said Rose, who tore his left ACL on April 28, underwent surgery weeks later and was initially ruled out eight to 12 months. “I’m going to be a better player, but who knows in what areas.

‘‘My legs have never been this strong before. My upper body has never been this strong before. My core has never been this strong before. I’m just going to see how far this takes me.”

Despite being sidelined, Rose is doing everything he can to be a leader.

During the summer, Rose’s commitment meant successfully pitching for Kirk Hinrich to rejoin the Bulls and handle the point while he’s recovering. And right now, it means coming in early for workouts and being around his teammates as much as possible to “just let everyone know I’m all right,” he said.

It’s clear he wants to be seen and heard and that there’s a purpose behind his actions. It’s a sign of his growth and leadership. Even his willingness to speak up on Twitter about Chicago happenings is a sign of that.

“To see that our youth is … [it’s] like they’re slipping away,” Rose said when asked about his Twitter voice. “I’m only 23, but it’s crazy. I’ve got to worry about my nieces and nephews, so that’s what I think about. I think about them as my kids. To see them be misguided by the stuff they see on TV or someone other than their family or me is wrong if you’re not a positive role model. So why not try to be the role model for them, so my nieces and nephews can follow me.”

Of course, fans can’t wait for the Bulls’ remodeled lineup to follow Rose on the court.

General manager Gar Forman said Rose hasn’t suffered any setbacks, and coach Tom Thibodeau said he wants Rose’s focus to remain on his rehab.

The only time line offered was Rose saying that he’s two weeks away from starting to cut with his knee.

“Cutting is the hardest thing in the world right now to do,” he said. “I’m scared of it. When I think I’ve got that out of my system, I’ll be pretty close. … Hopefully, it won’t take the whole year.”

But sitting out the whole season never really sounded like an option Monday.

“I can’t wait to get back on the court to see what I’m going to do,” Rose said.

“I don’t know how I’m going to play. I don’t know what’s going to be new about my game.

‘‘I just know it’s going to be exciting for everyone to see.”

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