AL HAMNIK: Bears must risk their bodies to protect QB Jay Cutler

2013-11-09T17:45:00Z 2013-11-12T16:33:34Z AL HAMNIK: Bears must risk their bodies to protect QB Jay CutlerAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
November 09, 2013 5:45 pm  • 

In one corner of Soldier Field today will be Bears' injury-prone quarterback Jay Cutler, a tough guy often as delicate as a tea cup based on his history.

In the other corner is 6-foot-4, 307-pound Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, considered the game's dirtiest player outside Detroit as his four career fines for a whopping $209,000 would indicate.

Detroit coach Jim Schwartz and Suh's teammates simply argue his play is over the top, and that he may have received an extra Neanderthal gene in the delivery room.

But dirty? A thug? Bite your lip.

Today's huge NFC North rematch has Chicago fans very worried because they believe Cutler should take another game off and give that torn groin muscle he suffered Oct. 20 at Washington more time to heal.

His return today caught everyone off guard but the Bears.

"If I wasn't back to 100 percent, I wouldn't be practicing," Cutler said during his teleconference call earlier in the week. "I feel ready. That's the biggest thing."

The fact he's playing for a new contract next season probably made it easier to shake off the rust, though Cutler claims he's never given it a thought.

Yet, one media observer during indoor workouts at the Walter Payton Center last week shot some video of Cutler throwing on various routes and said he seemed to lack the needed torque on his passes, possibly the result of his injury.

Cutler, once again, said he was ready.

Is he ready for Ndamukong Suh's merciless pass rush? And is rookie right guard Kyle Long ready for his rematch against Suh?

In the Bears' 40-32 loss to Detroit in Game 3, Cutler was sacked three times and lost a fumble. Long did nothing to deserve a game ball for his line play.

"That's their prodigy, their golden boy," Suh said of Long. "If that's the best they have, I want to go after it.

"But this isn't about me against him (Long). It's Cutler I love playing against. No discredit to (backup Josh) McCown, but I want to beat the best every single week."

And that would be No. 6.

"I've got to get after the quarterback and the running back (Matt Forte)," Suh was quick to add. "That's my job — to get after the guys who are going to score points.

"(Long) has to block me. It's not my job to beat him."

Pass protection has never been as important as it will be today. A whole season is riding on it.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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