It's going to be Jay [starting]. Our plan all along has been to allow him to get healthy. He was released by the doctors certainly before [Wednesday]. I still wanted to have the opportunity and our staff to work him out vigorously, to burst and move, do sudden footwork, climb the pocket and do those kinds of things.
He did it very effectively yesterday. He came up this morning, there were no residual issues, no swelling, nothing there at all. So we practiced him today and he had a very efficient, very good practice. Good start.
HOW DID McCOWN HANDLE THE DEMOTION?
Throughout this whole process and certainly over the last few days, he's been excellent, he's been probably Jay's biggest support. I called Jay last night, 8 o'clock, and Josh and he were working on the game plan at Jay's house. So that's the kind of support that Josh has given Jay throughout, and Jay have given Josh.
QUICKER TO GO TO MCCOWN IF CUTLER STRUGGLES?
I wouldn't be prepared for any of those hypotheticals. We plan on him playing and playing well and those situations come up game by game with anybody. But I wouldn't go near that one other than the fact that I expect Jay to play efficiently and play well and that's why he's going to be up.
IMPORTANT TO RESPECT THE STARTING QB SPOT AND MAINTAINING WORD?
We have a very close quarterback room. Everybody knows our situation; there was never any doubt that this was the direction we were going to go. We said that from the beginning. Josh did a tremendous job as a backup. Jay's healthy and ready to go and he'll play on Sunday.
CHARACTERIZE JAY'S LEVEL BEFORE INJURY?
I thought that his performance level against Detroit was very good under the circumstances. He had one tipped ball but remember the first drive we went right down the field and he threw the ball in the corner to Alshon.
I thought he played very efficiently in that game; that's my last memory of how he played. The Washington game, obviously he was out early. I do remember his level of play for the first three games of the season, very, very high and I think he was on his way to an effective season. Season's always change but I have a lot of confidence he's ready to go and play well on Sunday.
RISKY TO PUT STARTING QB BACK IN?
I don't think that risk was part of this decision. This decision was made a long time ago. That was that when Jay was ready to play, that he would play. That's how we planned to do it, so I don't look at it like that. I look at it, Jay's our quarterback, and when he was ready to play, he was going to play, and that's the same words I used a month ago and there's no change today.
RUST A CONCERN?
I have no concerns. I expect that he'll go out and play effectively and efficiently, Larry, I'm not going in there with any reservation that he'll do anything else. We'll see how he plays over the 60 minutes, but I don't have any reservations and I don't feel there's any risk. Jay's the quarterback, and he's playing on Sunday because he's been released and he's at 100 percent, or certainly close to it, if not.
WAS DECISION MADE MORE DIFFICULT BECAUSE OF MCCOWN'S PLAY?
The decision was made weeks ago, that when Jay was ready to play, I said it weeks ago, he would be in there again. There was no decision to be made because the decision was made weeks ago that Jay would start once he was healthy.
I think it's a good question, Peggy, but it's a hypothetical. I just don't know. He was very good today. He hasn't played in a while, but he's ready to play, and we need to get him out there and play quarterback for our football team, so he'll do that on Sunday.
MOST IMPORTANT DECISION YOU'VE MADE THIS YEAR?
I wouldn't say anything other than that this decision was made a long time ago. There's decisions that have to be made every day, and I'm comfortable with the decision that we've made.
WHAT CAN JAY LEARN FROM JOSH?
I think that's a good question from Jay to see what he got from this time away. Jay was handling this offense very, very well when he was playing. We were growing at the time, we were learning more about ourselves, we're more evolved around Jay than we were when Jay played the last time. We'll see, I really don't have a direct answer for that.
HOW HAS OFFENSE EVOLVED?
I think that our line has had a chance to be together longer. We've had a chance to get to know what our players can do well and things we need to focus on, I think our coaching staff has done a good job of that, and our players are becoming more familiar with the things that we're asking them to do. Because we've been fortunate enough to be reasonably healthy with our other 10 guys, we've had a chance to grow and learn more about each other.
SPEED UP JAY'S RHYTHM EARLY IN THE GAME?
I don't want to go directly at that but, we try with every player to try and put him in a position to have success early because we think that carries over throughout the game, to try to get players - target everybody with the ball, get our line feeling comfortable inside protection-wise, all the things that all the other coaches try to do, we try to do the same thing, and that's to try to give everybody an opportunity early in the game to get in a position where they feel they can be effective for the 60 minutes.
Lance was limited today. It's day to day with him. He was out there today, he got a few reps in practice and we'll see where he is tomorrow. He put the shells on, he put a helmet on today, and got some work.
I don't think I'm any more optimistic than I was yesterday. I think it's late in the week, I think, we'll see where he is tomorrow. I don't think I am any more than I was yesterday, Rich.
I forgot how cheerful and uplifting this room is. It is good to be back. A month out is long, long time so it did feel good to get back out there with the guys and get rolling.
ADDED PRESSURE BECAUSE THE OFFENSE HAS BEEN GOOD AND JOSH HAS BEEN PLAYING WELL?
Yeah, he's played well. He's played really well. I am happy for him. If there is anybody that deserves it, it's him in this locker room and on this team. He worked hard. Did a good job. Offense is definitely coming together. You could see it, bits and pieces in the offseason and training camp and leading up to the season. Guys are playing well. I think Trest has a real good beat on what we're doing well, putting us in different positions to be successful, line is still playing exceptionally well. I think Forte is doing everything well, blocking, running the ball, catching the ball out of the backfield. He's kind of making it all go for us.
TRESTMAN SAID DECISION WAS MADE LONG AGO, WHEN YOU WERE HEALTHY YOU WERE THE STARTER. HOW DID YOU UNDERSTAND IT? ANY DOUBT IN YOUR MIND?
No. I think that is how it was presented to me, that is how it was presented to Josh. It was just a matter of when I could come back and what game and when I felt comfortable and when I got cleared to get ready roll.
WHAT HAS BEEN CHALLENGE FOR YOU IN LAST MONTH TO CONTINUE TO EVOLVE WITHOUT ANY REPS?
It's hard. Mentally, you've got to stay in it. It's been hard. But working with Josh and just making sure he is on it each and every week has also been preparing me. Just helping him out, seeing it from a different perspective, it's been good.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED?
Just watching Josh's game, just kind of seeing what he has done, and seeing how good our offensive line is playing and seeing how many weapons we have on the outside and just seeing how easy it has been to manage the game and those guys on the outside made plays. Just giving them an opportunity, getting the ball to Matt on check downs, letting him run the ball. You also see how much you miss it, how much you miss being out there and how sometimes you take it for granted.
ANALYZE DECISIONS HE MADE AND WHAT YOU WOULD HAVE DONE?
He's done a good job. I think a lot of it goes back to play calling and what Trest has been able to do with this offense and kind of mold it through the course of the year and call some really good plays and dial them up when we need them.
WHAT HAVE YOU MADE OF THE RAGING DEBATE NATIONALLY AND LOCALLY ABOUT WHO THE QB SHOULD BE?
YOU HAVE NOT PAID ANY ATTENTION TO IT?
I have been worried about Cleveland. That has kind of been where my mind-set has been since, since Monday night after I got cleared. I can't get involved in that.
DOES IT BOTHER YOU THAT THERE IS A DEBATE OUT THERE?
There is not a debate in this building so that is kind of where my concern lies.
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO KNOW TO PLAY SECOND HALF OF LIONS GAME?
They just kind of checked to make sure it's not broken. After that, if you can go you can go.
HOW MUCH RUST DO YOU EXPECT/ARE YOU 100 PERCENT?
Yeah, I'm good to go. Rust, we're kind of knocking it off as we go in practice. I don't we really have a lot of room for me to be rusty out there. So we've got to hit in running. We've got to play well. Cleveland's a really good defense. They show a lot of different fronts. They get off the field on third down, so it's going to be a challenge.
IF THERE IS RUST, ANY DIFFERENT DECISION-MAKING PROCESS TO GO TO JOSH?
I would think not, but you'd have to talk to Trestman on that.
COMPARE YOUR MOBILITY NOW TO LIONS GAME
The Lions game I was good going into it. It happened before halftime and after that, after halftime I was a little bit limited what I could do mobility-wise. But I felt good going into it. I feel good going into this one.
WHAT HAS FAITH BEARS SHOWN IN YOU MEANT TO YOU?
It means a lot. I think all the guys on the offense have been behind me the entire time. The coaches have kept me involved. I've been involved in the whole process each and every week. It just feels good to get back out there and help out the guys and hopefully we can get another win.
WHAT'S IT LIKE SEEING GOOD BUDDY JOSH GET BENCHED?
I'm proud of him. Like I said earlier, there's no one in this building that deserves it more than he does. He's worked extremely hard his entire career. I think he knows he's in a really good position with the offensive talent we have and the coaching staff and he's done a great job of taking advantage of it. He's maximized his opportunity, which is all you can ask a guy.
SENSED PROGRESS IN OFFENSE TIME YOU WERE OUT?
Yeah. We touched on that. I think Trest for the last month has really got a bead and got a feel for what he likes to call, what we're running well, what we feel comfortable with, what the offensive line likes in the running game. Krom's done a good job of mixing that stuff up. So we're moving along, but it's a different week each and every week. Cleveland is a tough team; we're going to have to get ready for them.
SEEN A DIFFERENCE IN ALSHON'S PLAY SINCE YOU'VE BEEN OUT?
No, not really. He's still making catches. He still goes up and battles for the ball. He's a hard cover one-on-one because he can go deep, he's got a really good short range, in and out of cuts, so he's tough. He's tough to deal with. You've got Brandon on the other side, so you kind of have to pick your poison.
YOU SAID YOU MISSED PLAYING AND DON'T WANT TO TAKE IT FOR GRANTED. HOW WILL THAT AFFECT HOW YOUR PLAY LAST 3 GAMES AS FAR AS INTANGIBLES?
I'm going to keep doing what I've been doing all year. I don't think you can change at this point, just keep trying to lead these guys offensively and just do my job.
WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM JOSH?
We already covered that.
BROWNS HAVE GOOD SECONDARY
They're very good. They're leading the league in yards per play. They get off the field on third down like we talked about. They show a lot of different fronts. They blitz a little bit. The defensive coordinator came over from Arizona. They have a really good defense, so we've got our hands full. We're still kind of working through what we like game plan-wise, but by Sunday we'll have it hammered out.
HELPFUL TO HAVE THOSE TWO PRACTICES LAST WEEK?
Yeah, definitely. To get out there and just throw a little bit, see defenses, kind of read some things, just get back in the swing of it. It was definitely helpful.
DISAPPOINTED NOT TO PLAY AGAINST COWBOYS?
I was hoping to play. I was. I was disappointed early in the week, but after that, I had to get over it and just kind of help Josh how I could help him and get myself ready for the upcoming week.
PEGGY WANTS TO KNOW IF YOU ASKED HIM FOR THE KEYS TO THE CAR…
No. I gave him a spare set. (crickets…)
ANYTHING ABOUT THE BEARS COMMITMENT TO YOU AFFECT YOUR MINDSET OF THE FUTURE?
Um, no. I think we're still in the same boat that we were. We'll deal with it at the end of the season. I think that's what they want, that's what I want. My concentration right now is on Cleveland and the final two games. That stuff is kind of on the backburner.
ARE YOU A FREQUENT PARTICIPANT IN Phil Emery'S CHATS ON Chicago Bears.COM.
I heard what he said about the franchise tag. Um, you know, it is what it is. I think Phil has a plan — actually, I know Phil has a plan. You guys might not know Phil's plan, but he has a plan.
WHAT IS PHIL'S PLAN?
You'd have to ask him.
DO YOU THINK HOW YOU PLAY WILL IMPACT THAT?
Can't worry about it. We're trying to win football games, so whatever it takes to win that game that's kind of my mindset and it will take care of itself. It always does.
IS THERE MORE PRESSURE NOT TO DO WELL BECAUSE OF WAY JOSH PLAYED?
He's played well (yawns). You know, he's played really well the last game, before that Josh made his mistakes just like I have, he'll tell you himself. You know, just got to go out and play my game and it will go how it goes.
IS THERE MORE PRESSURE TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS?
There's pressure to make the playoffs every game. This is my eighth year. I've been down this road before.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR GROIN?
A month kind of cleared that up. A month off, I had plenty of time.
I still hit it hard. We've been kind of rehabbing my whole left side for a month so I should be good to go.
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.