Derrick Rose taking some contact

DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose has started to take some contact in practice as he continues his rehab from a torn ACL in his left knee.

"He's doing what we call 'predictable contact,' " Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said after Tuesday's practice. "Obviously, you're knowing what's coming.

"So he's handled that part great. He's done a little one-on-one, that's coming around, but he's still ... everyone has to be patient. The next step will be a regular practice and he hasn't done that yet. So once he does that, you know he's getting closer."

Rose, wearing a sleeve over his left knee, jogged past reporters without addressing the media. His teammates and coaches continue to say he is in good spirits and feeling good physically and mentally.

Rose tore his ACL on April 28 in the first game of the Eastern Conference playoffs against the Philadelphia 76ers and had surgery on May 12. He was expected to be out between 8-12 months.

"We're not really looking over our shoulder because he's with us every day," Bulls center Joakim Noah said. "We get to see the progress. But I think it's good.

"Right now we're trying to play the best basketball possible knowing that he is going to come back, and that's a good feeling. And right now we just got to keep grinding it out and keep getting these wins, so that the truth is he has to be patient and we need to give him as much time as he needs and come back when he's 100 percent. It's exciting stuff."

Even without Rose, the Bulls have been able to build a 19-13 record, good for the top spot in the Central Division and No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Despite the recent optimism regarding his return, the Bulls are trying to remain patient.

"We got to feel good about this," Thibodeau said. "More importantly, the most important thing, he's got to feel really good about it.

"But it's the type of injury where you have to be patient and he's handling his part great. He's upbeat, he's doing his rehab daily and that's his entire focus. Then the team, they've just got to lock into our improvement and our next opponent and then at some point he'll rejoin us."