Forte limited in practice, 'getting better'

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte had limited participation in practice on Thursday as he attempts to return from a sprained ankle to play against the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night.

Forte wore full pads and went through all the individual drills during the brief portion of practice open to the media.

"Matt Forte continues to get better and has been able to do a little more each day," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "I can't tell you a lot more than that as far as Matt is concerned except that he's getting better and that's been the case all along with him."

Forte hurt the ankle in third quarter of the Bears' loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sept. 13 and was forced to miss last week's win over the St. Louis Rams. Michael Bush replaced Forte, but Kahlil Bell had to finish the game after Bush got banged up. However, Bush had full participation in practice on Thursday and did not appear on the injury report.

Smith said he gave defensive end Julius Peppers (foot) a planned day off.

Meanwhile, wide receiver Earl Bennett was also limited due to a lingering hand injury that may explain why the usually consistent wideout has just three catches for 32 yards in the past two games.

Long snapper Patrick Mannelly (sick) and fullback Evan Rodriguez (knee) were both out Thursday. Tight end Matt Spaeth is one of the Bears' backup long-snapping options if Mannelly is forced to miss a game.