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Bears optimistic Cutler can play Sunday

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By PFW staff

Bears head coach Lovie Smith is optimistic that he'll have Jay Cutler back for the team's Week Five game at Carolina. Due to the scrutiny now being given to concussions, however, a decision on the quarterback's availability won't be made until later in the week.

"He's feeling OK, as he was last night after the game," Smith said Monday. "It seems like he's in pretty good shape right now. There are no visual signs or anything that I can tell. That's why I try not to be the doctor. I leave it to other people. But he seems like he's OK today."

Cutler has never missed an NFL game, and this was apparently his first concussion in five seasons. The injury may have occurred on the second-to-last play of the first half, when he was sacked by Giants CB Aaron Ross, although it also may have happened early in the second quarter when DE Osi Umenyiora hit Cutler from behind, forcing a fumble that the Bears recovered. Cutler endured nine sacks, an NFL record for one half.

Backup QB Todd Collins also left the game following a sack, forcing third-string QB Caleb Hanie to enter the game. Collins has a neck stinger.

Smith said he was hopeful that both Cutler and Collins will be able to practice Wednesday.

The way we see it

Obviously, Cutler's availability is of prime importance to a Bears team that is tied with Green Bay for first place in the NFC North at 3-1. The Carolina game is a winnable one for Chicago if Cutler is on the field.

That having been said, no quarterback will have much success if the offensive line continues to be the revolving door that it imitated against the Giants on Sunday night. The O-line's showing was a bit surprising considering how well it redeemed itself after a shaky start in a Week Three victory over the archrival Packers. Yet, it has been an inconsistent unit this season, to put it mildly.

Cutler also was guilty of holding on to the ball too long Sunday night, rather than making quick decisions, but that may have been partly the result of the concussion.

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