The Chicago Bears announced today that Jay Cutler has been cleared to play this Sunday against the Detroit Lions. After injuring his groin on Oct. 22, the team announced Cutler would be out a minimum of four weeks and it would be week-to-week after that. His clearance today comes just two and a half weeks after the injury occurred.
"As soon as I got hurt I felt like I would be back quicker than they thought. I kind of had that mindset throughout," Cutler said today. "At the bye week I felt like that would give me a lot of time to be able to make a push for this game. Last week I felt if things kept progressing I would definitely have a chance for this game. Early last week I had a sense this could be a real factor."
After going through some on-field tests this afternoon, Cutler was given a clean bill of health and returned to practice. He said he won't be limited during the game.
"If I wasn't back to 100 percent or they had any doubts in it, I wouldn't have been practicing today," said Cutler. "That was the stipulation. They were going to let Josh have another crack at it and I was going to have to sit this one out."
At this point, there's no concern by Cutler, the coaching staff or the trainers of him suffering any significant setbacks by returning this week.
"[The staff] do a good job," Cutler said. "We've done enough to test [to see] where I'm at. I feel good. I've got a lot of trust in the offensive line and the way they're playing right now. Can't worry about that. It's gone. It's over."
He said the key in his recovery was ARP muscle stimulation therapy, conducted as Synergy Sports in Lake Forest.
"We stayed on it. Did a lot of soft tissue work with our chiropractor Josh Aiken, [trainers] Bobby [Slater] and Chris [Hanks] in there did a good job. Used a machine called the ARP over at Synergy Sports just up the road. Threw a lot of stuff at it. Wanted to get back as soon as possible.
"The bye week we stayed here. If I wasn't here, I was with Josh getting chiropractic work and if I wasn't with Josh I was on the ARP. I put some time in to get back and get to this point."
Sitting out last week, Cutler shadowed Marc Trestman on the sidelines during Monday night's contest, a road victory over the Green Bay Packers, and said he gained a different perspective of his head coach.
"He's calm. I don't know how he is so calm," Cutler said. "Fourth quarter we're driving and it's like he's at the park, walking around in the park. He's done it for a long time though and he comes into the game very well prepared and watches more film than anybody in the building. It's to be expected."
Cutler also got a chance to view the offense from an outsider's perspective.
"It's not a perspective I like being in or really am accustomed to but I saw offensively just how good the offensive line really is and how many weapons we have on the outside and just how hard it is to kind of defend us," he said. "That being said, we still have a lot of work to do and we still haven't arrived where we want to be. We definitely heading in the right direction I think."
The first big test for Cutler and his groin comes Sunday against a formidable Lions pass rush. Suddenly pushing off his leg to elude a defender will put enough stress on the muscle to re-injury it if he's not 100 percent. If he can get through that hurdle, it should be downhill from there.
"Once you get in the game, it's just reactionary stuff. Your brain's not going to be able to say, ‘Hey, alright, I want you to step right.' It just happens," said Cutler. "We tried to mimic that as much as possible. I thought we did a good job of that the last three days. I feel ready. That's the biggest thing. We've talked to all the doctors. We still have a couple of days to let it heal even more. Personally, I feel ready."
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his third season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.