AL HAMNIK: Cutler adds some sunlight to Bears' cloudy forecast

2013-10-29T17:30:00Z 2013-11-05T22:18:12Z AL HAMNIK: Cutler adds some sunlight to Bears' cloudy forecastAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
October 29, 2013 5:30 pm  • 

You can come in off that ledge now, Bears fans.

Remove the purple bunting from your man cave.

Stand in front of the mirror and practice smiling again.

The end is not here.

Jay Cutler is attending practice, doing some light jogging, and tossing the football around. Oh, happy day.

That torn groin muscle he suffered against the Redskins on Oct. 20 is not season ending and the hard-luck quarterback is hoping to return faster than the four weeks he was expected to miss.

Suddenly, that ledge isn't as inviting anymore.

Cutler met with the media Tuesday for the first time since his latest injury, saying it was the "most significant, pain-wise, that I've had."

Otherwise, he was in good spirits, able to move about freely and implied he hopes to return soon to a Bears team that has lost three of its last four games and is 2-6 without him in the lineup.

Doctors, of course, will decide when Cutler is ready to boogie.

"That's kinda the world we live in right now," he said. "I feel better, day by day. I'm optimistic, so we'll see how it goes.

"I'm not gonna get into specifics as to what we're doing (with treatment)."

Coach Marc Trestman says it's unlikely Cutler will play against the Packers on Monday night, but a return Nov. 10 against the explosive Lions carries a sense of urgency considering Chicago (4-3) is third in the NFC North behind Green Bay (5-2) and Detroit (5-3), which has the tiebreaker with the Bears.

Backup Josh McCown holds the dance card Monday.

"It's tough watching. That's always the hardest part, not being able to do your job with the rest of the guys," Cutler said. "I've just got to help Josh the best I can."

Cutler's critics (yes, he still has them) are quick to point out the Packers own him as a 1-7 record and 16 interceptions would indicate.

Forget history. He's their best option at quarterback, while McCown is still forming a chemistry with the receivers and linemen.

That second Lions game is huge and maybe the season-ending home date with Green Bay as well.

"Once the doctors give me the green light, we're gonna go in there rockin'. Whenever that happens, you'll see me out there," Cutler said.

"Each game is valuable, especially second half of the season. The sooner I get back, the better I'm gonna feel helping these guys out."

Most of Cutler's answers were short, but revealing, given the fact he looked excited -- yes, Jay Cutler -- about climbing back into the saddle soon.

But he's not about to jeopardize the entire season.

"Josh has played well and he'll play well this (coming) week," Cutler said. "He has a grasp of what we're doing."

There is another concern at Halas Hall. It's a Bears' defense lacking both discipline and healthy bodies.

The Bears have allowed 206 points this season after giving up 277 all of last year.

They have a league-low nine sacks.

Their defense is ranked 27th in the NFL.

Might want to keep one foot on that ledge, in case.

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

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