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MORRISSEY: Bringing Cutler back too early is a recipe for reinjury

LANDOVER MD - OCTOBER 20: Quarterback Jay Cutler #6 Chicago Bears takes field before playing WashingtRedskins FedExField October 20 2013

LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 20: Quarterback Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears takes the field before playing the Washington Redskins at FedExField on October 20, 2013 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

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Updated: October 31, 2013 11:37AM



I’m not a doctor, though I do know how to tape an aspirin to an injury.

My lack of ‘‘traditional’’ medical training won’t stop me from wondering whether Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is rushing things a bit — and by ‘‘a bit’’ I mean ‘‘a lot.’’

You might recall that when Cutler was injured 11 days ago, he seemed to be in excruciating pain. It’s true that pain doesn’t always reflect the severity of an injury, but when a man appears to be doing a reasonable imitation of a run-over-but-not-run-over-enough cat, you tend to pay attention.

The diagnosis was a torn groin muscle, and the prognosis was Cutler would be out for at least four weeks.

But within a week of the injury, the whispers already had begun: Cutler was feeling much better. Out four weeks? Try two! Receiver Brandon Marshall even uttered it publicly. Coach Marc Trestman admitted he had heard the same talk, though he seemed to say it reluctantly.

On Tuesday, Cutler told media members he was optimistic
about his rehab but wouldn’t go into details.

‘‘I feel good,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m not going to get into where we’re at, but we’re getting better and better.’’

I suppose this is where I write that nobody knows Cutler’s groin better than he does. But the last thing the Bears and their quarterback need is for him to come back too early, reinjure himself and be lost for even longer.

Bringing all my medical knowledge to bear here, groin muscles are involved in running and other movements known to be useful to quarterbacks. In other words, there is no fooling a groin muscle. Playing on it doesn’t make it better. Reinjure it, and you’re back to square one — or maybe minus-square one. But enough of the inside-medicine stuff.

Cutler has a lot of reasons to get back on the field as soon as possible. If the 4-3 Bears hope to make the playoffs, they’ll need him in the huddle. I happen to think those hopes are as faint as a shy ghost. The defense was bad even before linebacker Lance Briggs was injured against the Redskins.

Then there’s Cutler’s contract status. He will be a free agent after this season, and the Bears seem to be using 2013 to gauge their confidence in him. The larger the body of Cutler’s work, the better for the Bears as they make decisions. He was playing fairly well before he was hurt, but his injury has allowed observers to wonder what quarterback guru Trestman can do with backup Josh McCown.

If McCown plays well in Cutler’s absence, does that mean Cutler isn’t as valuable to the Bears? Is any success the offense has all about Trestman’s system?

If the answer turns out to be ‘‘yes’’ to those two questions, then what would be the point of a
mega-contract for Cutler?

It would be hard to blame him if the contract fuzziness were on his mind. Dropped in his shoes, you and I might rush back from injury, too. Where Derrick Rose had huge Bulls and Adidas contracts to fall back on while he rehabbed, Cutler is hoping to hit it big with his next contract, especially with baby
No. 2 on the way.

‘‘I’m not going to [consider the long term],’’ he said. ‘‘Each game is valuable, especially in the second half of the season. So the sooner I can get back, the better I’m going to feel helping these guys out.’’

Cutler is tough and stubborn, and it’s the Bears’ responsibility to save him from himself if he’s in danger of doing more damage to his groin. It’s the inherent conflict of interest in pro sports: an organization in the business of winning games making medical decisions that might affect business.

Trestman did leave open the possibility Cutler might be ready to play Monday against the Packers, but the possibility sounded ultra-slim.

Trestman strikes me as being above playing the injury game. You know, when a coach pretends one of his fallen soldiers might be ready for the next game just to force an opponent to prepare for the possibility the player will show up in uniform. Still, there’s a big talent gap between the quarterbacks, despite all the hype that has built up around McCown since Cutler was injured. Can’t hurt to plant seeds of doubt in Green Bay.

But I don’t think the Packers are worried Cutler will play Monday. I think they’re worried Trestman will bench safety Chris Conte.



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