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Jay Cutler doesn’t practice, but isn’t ruled out against 49ers

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler takes hit from HoustTexans J.J. Watt during first quarter Soldier Field Chicago Ill. Sunday November

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler takes a hit from the Houston Texans J.J. Watt during the first quarter at Soldier Field in Chicago, Ill., on Sunday, November 11, 2012. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media

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Quarterback Jay Cutler was at Halas Hall talking with teammates, not resting in a dark room at home. But that doesn’t mean Cutler will be able to play Monday against the San Francisco 49ers, especially after he didn’t practice Thursday.

“He’s feeling better, and it normally goes like that,” coach Lovie Smith said of Cutler, who’s recovering from a concussion suffered Sunday against the Houston Texans. “Normally, you get better each day, so that’s why you’re optimistic, and you have to take it each day. We’re hoping [Friday], he’ll be better than he is today.”

Will he practice then? “Wait till [Friday] and see,” Smith said.

Linebacker Brian Urlacher, defensive tackle Henry Melton and others had a chance to talk with Cutler. Melton said Cutler told him he was feeling good, and Urlacher described him as “doing good.”

“I’ve seen him a little bit,” Melton said. “He just looks like the same old Jay. I’m not a doctor, so I can’t really say if he’s going to go or not. But he’s looking good. So we’ll just see what happens.”

Smith said as a general rule he’d like players to practice Friday if they’re going to play. Cutler is yet to be cleared.

“But for some of our guys that have been around awhile, if we get to game day and they haven’t practiced [and] they feel like they can go, then they’ll play,” Smith said.

Punting woes

Special-teams coach Dave Toub said the Bears’ decision to work out punters this week was based on two things.

“You want to know for the emergency list, No. 1, and … it’s a performance-based business,” Toub said. “Everybody knows that you need to perform at a high level, and if you don’t, as a coach and as a team, you have to explore other options that are out there. You have to know who’s available if we do make a change.”

Toub said punter Adam Podlesh is healthy but “in a slump right now.” Podlesh averaged 38.8 yards per punt against the Texans.

“We’re trying to battle through it,” Toub said. “He had a good practice today, so we’re encouraged.”

In and out

Rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was limited in practice but ran routes and caught passes. It’s still possible he’ll return from his broken right hand Monday.

“He was playing good football for us when he went down, and I know we can’t wait to get him back,” Smith said. “When you look at the timetable we had for him when he went down, this is getting close to that time. We’re hopeful. I know we could use him.”

Defensive end Shea McClellin (concussion) and defensive tackle Matt Toeaina (calf) didn’t practice.

Head games?

With concussions a big topic all week, Urlacher said that there are points in every game where you feel “woozy” and that new helmets might be to blame for the increase in concussions.

“I wear an old helmet; Lance [Briggs] wears an old helmet,” Urlacher said. “We have some pretty good collisions. We don’t get concussed. I think a lot of it has to do with the helmets now and the way they say they’re better, but they must not be because people get more concussions now.’’

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