With a mild MCL sprain, Jay Cutler had full participation in Friday's practice but the Bears nevertheless will be shorthanded for Sunday's game against the Packers at Soldier Field.
The Bears (8-5) are trying to end a slide in which they have lost four of five games, and they have dropped five straight to Green Bay. But they will be without three starters on defense as cornerback Tim Jennings (shoulder), defensive tackle Henry Melton (chest) and middle linebacker Brian Urlacher (hamstring) will not play against quarterback Aaron Rodgers,who is 8-2 overall vs. the Bears.
Defensive end Shea McClellin is also out with an MCL sprain and running back Michael Bush (ribs), strong-side linebacker Geno Hayes (knee) and defensive tackle Matt Toeaina(knee) are questionable.
"We're a little banged up, but believe me we have enough guys to play this week," coach Lovie Smith said. "We have had good practices. There's nothing like a good rivalry game this time of the year. A little chatter from both sides, which is a good thing. We know how the game is. The game's always clean and it'll be decided out there at Soldier Field, which we like."
Smith tried to downplay Cutler's knee issue but the Bears listed the injury on their report per NFL guidelines knowing failing to do so could result in a stiff fine. Cutler was limited in Thursday's practice and would not have practiced Wednesday if the team had. He also had a stiff neck.
"What knee?" Smith said. "There's no problem with the knee. Jay's good to go."
If Hayes cannot fill in as the third linebacker in Urlacher's absence, Blake Costanzo is expected to play on the strong side. Defensive end Israel Idonije will get significant time inside and could start at tackle with Melton sidelined. Wide receiver Earl Bennett (concussion) is out but offensively the Bears are solid.
The Packers listed outside linebacker Clay Matthewsprobable after he missed the last four games with a pulled hamstring. He had 3 1/2 of his team-high nine sacks against the Bears in Week 2. But Green Bay will be without safety Charles Woodson, wide receiver Jordy Nelson,running back James Starks and defensive end C.J. Wilson. Right guard Josh Sitton (hip) and linebackerTerrell Manning (shoulder) are questionable.
MVP chatter: Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshallcalled Packers coordinator Dom Capers the MVP of the defense after he was limited to only two catches in the first meeting, a point he hammered home at length on Wednesday.
"Somebody told me that," Capers told reporters in Green Bay. "But I normally don't pay much attention to the banter that goes on, before or after games. He obviously is a guy who creates a challenge. You don't have to look very hard at the stats — the guy has 101 receptions — (to know) he's a big part of their offense.
"Then you go to (Matt) Forte and Forte kind of always has been the guy and then they bring Marshall in, so those two guys are the top two guys when it comes to defending the Bears."
Fine stuff: Charles Tillman was fined $7,875 for a late hit against the Vikings that resulted in a personal foul. Vikings linemen Everson Griffen and Jared Allen were not fined for the high/low hit that drew a penalty and delivered the neck injury that knocked Cutler out of the game. Griffen was called for a penalty on the play.