Walking without a limp, Kyle Orton said he has not ruled out playing in Sunday's noon clash against the undefeated Titans at Soldier Field, but he did not participate in Wednesday's practice.
Orton did not look like he'd be able to play in three days but it also didn't appear that he'd be out a month, as some reports claimed last Sunday, shortly after he was injured just before halftime. It was also reported that the injury was a high ankle sprain, which normally take much longer to heal than the conventional "inversion" ankle sprain, where the ankle rolls outward and the foot turns inward.
"It was sore when I woke up Monday morning," said Orton, who described the injury simply as "an ankle sprain," without mentioning the severity or nature of the sprain. "I don't know the definition of a high ankle sprain or anything like that. I just know my ankle is sprained."
"It's been a good couple days," he said when asked how he felt. "I woke up Monday morning feeling better than I did on Sunday. I woke up [Wednesday] morning feeling better than I did [Tuesday]. Hopefully, I'll be able to give it a shot on Sunday."
That would be shocking, but it seems Orton has a chance to be back in the lineup against the Packers on Nov. 16 at Green Bay. When he spoke to the media, the four-year veteran wore only a small elastic wrap around his injured right ankle.
Bears head coach Lovie Smith was, as always, coy when the topic is an injured player.
"[I'm] optimistic we'll have him back soon," Smith said. "Soon can mean a lot of things."
Asked for a definition of "soon," Smith elaborated without clarifying.
"Well, I have my definition of it," he said. "You can go a lot of different ways with 'soon.' Soon could be tomorrow, the next day, three weeks from there – maybe at the end of the year."
As far as this week, Orton will spend much more time rehabbing than practicing, and he has not been given a timetable by the Bears' athletic trainers.
"It's week to week," Orton said. "I don't think you can put a time line on it. If it happens [this week], it happens, and it's great. If not, then we'll go to the Green Bay game, and I'll try to make it for that one."
Orton said he had no discomfort standing at the podium Wednesday.
But when asked what went through his mind at the instant he was injured, he simply said, "Ouch."
After he got off the ground, Orton tried to limp off the field only to collapse. He was removed on a motorized cart
"It hurt," he said. "I was trying to get off the field, but it just wasn't going to happen."
Rex Grossman, who lost out to Orton in a preseason battle for the No. 1 job, is expected to start Sunday for the first time since last Dec. 6, when he was sidelined for the remainder of the season by a sprained knee. Grossman took all the first-team reps during Wednesday's practice, while third-stringer Caleb Hanie ran the scout team.
"I'm not sure exactly what's going to happen," Grossman said, "but I'm preparing like I'm playing and going out there excited for the opportunity. If it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen. But I'm going in as if I'm playing, and [if not], I'll worry about that on Sunday."
Teammates hope for a speedy return by Orton, whose passer rating of 90.8 is 10th best in the NFL. But they're confident Grossman, whose career passer rating entering this season was 70.9, can step in and perform well.
"Rex is a big luxury to have," said six-time Pro Bowl center Olin Kreutz. "He's a good quarterback. We've seen that around here a lot. In the NFL, you need two good quarterbacks, and we've got two."
Since Orton will get little if any work in practice this week, it's extremely doubtful he would come in cold Sunday to face one of the NFL's toughest defenses.
"It'd be tough," offensive coordinator Ron Turner said. "It's tough for anybody at any position to play if you don't practice – quarterbacks especially."
Grossman didn't get any snaps with the first team last week before he relieved Orton, but he will get most, if not all, of this week's practice snaps.
"We feel great about Rex," Turner said. "I think every guy in that locker room does. We know what he can do. We've won with him in the past. He has been preparing very well through the eight games that he didn't start, and he stayed ready to go. We feel fortunate. We have two quarterbacks we can win with."
NOTES & QUOTES
Illinois Senator Barack Obama's victory in Tuesday's Presidential election had a lot more to do with Smith's good mood than another session with the media.
"When you grow up, you always hear you can be anything you want to be, but you need a visual sometimes to see that," he said. "Now we have it. The most powerful man, period, is black. So young kids coming up today, now they really do know you can be anything you want to be. You think about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., his dream of some day seeing someone like Barack in this position. I was up quite a bit last night enjoying it all, just good to see all the people down [at Grant Park], the diversity you saw there."
Smith said he considered attending Obama's rally Tuesday night but didn't want to shirk his responsibilities at Halas Hall.
"One of my sons was down there giving me updates," Smith said, "but we have a big game this week. I feel I may do a little bit better job being here."
Smith, who was emotional describing it, said he was moved when the outcome became evident.
"When you have a first like that, you don't know exactly how to act because you've never been in that situation," he said. "But to say that you have a black man that is the President of the United States – talk about the land of opportunity."
Smith said he appreciates Obama for more than his politics.
"One of them is that he's a big Chicago Bears fan," he said. "[There's a] standing invitation for him to come out here any time." …
WR Brandon Lloyd returned to full practice for the first time since suffering a sprained knee in Week 3.
"It's been improving," Lloyd said. "It's just been going a little slower than I expected."
In Lloyd's absence, Rashied Davis, Devin Hester and Marty Booker have helped the Bears improve from 21st in passing yards to 16th, and rookie Earl Bennett has been active for four games after sitting out the first four.
Asked about Lloyd on Wednesday, Bears wide receivers coach Darryl Drake said: "You want to talk to me? Talk to me about Marty Booker. Talk to me about Rashied Davis. Talk to me about Devin Hester. Talk to me about Earl Bennett. When Brandon gets out there, then we'll talk about him." …
Kreutz said the way Grossman reacted after losing his job to Orton in the preseason and the way he's handled adversity says a lot about his character.
"He's always been a guy with a great character," Kreutz said. "He took a beating [from fans and media] when he started. He hasn't had an easy career around here. Not many guys can handle that, but he still hung in there and he comes in and does his job."
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