Bears' Jay Cutler cleared to play
The Bears announced that both team and independent physicians cleared Cutler to practice and, barring any setbacks this week, to play Sunday when the club hosts the Seattle Seahawks.
Sustaining the concussion Oct. 3 after getting sacked nine times in the first half against the New York Giants, Cutler missed Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers, marking the first time in his five-year career the quarterback sat out of a game because of an injury.
There was some dizziness, general fogginess of your surroundings. You're not as sharp.” -- Jay Cutler, describing his concussion
"We talked to a lot of doctors, and concussions are kind of a hot spot this year in the NFL," Cutler said. "So they wanted to make completely sure I was good to go."
Cutler underwent another round of testing Monday for concussive symptoms, and "everything is clean," he said. Cutler added he doesn't anticipate undergoing any more testing this week, and all signs indicate he will resume his role as the starter against the Seahawks.
"He's our leader; he means everything to us," center Olin Kreutz said.
Cutler said he wanted to play in the Bears' 23-6 win over the Panthers, but a team and an independent physician wouldn't clear him to participate. Cutler said the Bears "kept reassuring me that one week we'd get by."
The Bears did just that against the Panthers, leaning on stellar play from the rushing attack, defense and special teams to earn a road victory. Backup Todd Collins struggled filling in for Cutler, throwing four interceptions and finishing with a 6.2 passer rating.
According to sources, the Bears demoted Collins earlier in the week in favor of Caleb Hanie, who completed 2 of 3 passes for 19 yards after relieving the veteran in the third quarter.
"Excited about having Jay back," defensive tackle Tommie Harris said. "Todd and those guys came in and did a great job. But this guy [Cutler], it's built around him."
Speaking publicly for the first time since suffering the concussion against the Giants, Cutler -- who was diagnosed with diabetes in 2008 -- squashed speculation that the hits he took affected his blood sugar and therefore his decision-making. Cutler called those claims "completely false and ridiculous."
Cutler wasn't sure which hit caused the concussion.
"There were some moments in the second quarter where I was probably not completely aware of what was going on," Cutler said. "[The symptoms included] just some dizziness. There's just general fogginess of your surroundings; you're not as sharp. Your awareness is a little bit down; all of that stuff kind of combined."
Based on Cutler's comments, it's likely he suffered the concussion prior to the final sack of the half from Giants cornerback Aaron Ross. The team claimed last week that the final sack caused the concussion.
Cutler admitted his decision-making may have been affected from hits taken prior to the one the team says caused the concussion. When asked about the hits affecting his decisions in the second quarter, Cutler said, "I don't think it helped."
The latest health scare won't change Cutler's playing style, and the quarterback says he won't think about what transpired against the Giants in preparation for Sunday's game at home against the Seahawks.
"You have to, that's kind of what this game's all about," Cutler said. "Each week there's a new fight out there. The slate is wiped clean. You've got to have a short memory in this league."
Despite trying to erase those memories, Cutler admitted the concussion put things in perspective somewhat. He said he received a call from linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer, who was placed on injured reserve Sept. 14 because of concussive symptoms, and the two spoke in depth about head injuries. Cutler initially fought against recommendations from the team's medical staff and an independent physician, before agreeing it would be best for him to sit out against the Panthers.
"It's tough whenever you think you feel OK. Those second concussions are the ones that can get really tricky," Cutler said. "It was a long week last week; tough to watch the game. I'm back this week."
Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.
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