The Chicago Bears announced on Oct. 21 that Jay Cutler would miss "at least four weeks" with a torn groin muscle. A mere 17 days later, head coach Marc Trestman said that Cutler has been cleared to play against the Lions this Sunday.
Cutler tore a groin muscle during the Bears' Week 7 loss in Washington. Backup Josh McCown replaced him in that game, then started for Chicago Monday in a win at Green Bay. ESPN reported during that Bears-Packers showdown that Cutler was expected back for Week 10 vs. Detroit, but Cutler tempered expectations Tuesday.
"I was aiming for the Green Bay game, and that didn’t happen. I don’t think we can say I’ll be out there for the Detroit game," Cutler said on ESPN Chicago's "Waddle and Silvy" radio show. "We’re trying everything we can to get out there."
Whatever the Bears did worked.
Cutler's return could be problematic for Detroit -- the Lions haven't won on the road against Cutler since he became the Bears' quarterback, a span of four games. The Lions did force Cutler into a shaky showing the first time these two teams met in 2013, with Cutler turning the ball over four times in a 40-32 loss.
His return will push McCown back to the bench after an admirable effort against the Packers. McCown completed 22-of-41 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns (one each to Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery), and the Bears scored a huge road victory.
That performance from McCown led to some speculation that the Bears would take a little extra precaution before tossing Cutler back into the starting lineup. However, Cutler's rapid recovery plus the importance of Sunday's game altered those plans. The Lions and Bears, along with Green Bay, are tied atop the NFC North at 5-3.
Prior to his shaky and injury-marred outing against Washington, Cutler had been performing well. He bounced back from that loss in Detroit to throw a combined 620 yards and four touchdowns in home games against New Orleans and the Giants; the Bears went 1-1 in those contests.
The Lions' aggressive defensive front could put a little extra heat on Cutler, especially if he is at less than 100 percent mobility. But Detroit also has just 13 sacks this season (three in that earlier game against Cutler and the Bears), the third-lowest total in the NFL this season. Last year's meeting between Detroit and Chicago at Soldier Field was a complete defensive struggle. The Bears won, 13-7 on a Monday night, but Cutler was held to just 150 yards passing.