The Bears will be without quarterback Jay Cutler for at least four weeks and linebacker Lance Briggs for at least six because of the injuries they suffered in Sunday’s loss to the Redskins, the team announced Monday.
An MRI exam revealed Cutler has a torn groin muscle. Briggs, the anchor of the defense, has a small fracture in his shoulder, the team said.
Neither player will require surgery, coach Marc Trestman said.
Regarding Cutler, Trestman said, “I’m only confident by what they’ve told me. This is a minimum of four weeks. Then he’ll be evaluated week to week. … Four weeks is a reasonable start. And then it’ll be week to week. I’m encouraged by the prognosis.”
Asked about the injuries to two team leaders, Trestman said, “They’re significant. But the positive thing is that they’re not out for the season. They’re not done. They’re going to be back. And this team has an obligation with the next-man-up philosophy of coming together. And there are a lot of reasons to be excited about coming back here next week.”
As for Cutler’s state of mind, Trestman said, “He’s disappointed he was injured. I can take it as far as that. He was in a good frame of mind today. He was every reasonable but certainly very disappointed.”
Josh McCown takes over as the starting quarterback. He relieved Cutler in Sunday’s 45-41 defeat, throwing for 204 yards and a touchdown. Jordan Palmer was signed Monday to back up McCown.
“It’s an uphill battle,” McCown said Monday. “You lose a leader like Jay, a leader like Lance, it’s a blow to your team. As is with every team in the NFL, it’s next man up. It’s how we do it. You’ve just got to get ready to go, get ready to play. There are going to be people stepping up on the defensive side of the ball. I’ll have to step up on the offensive side of the ball and we’ll have to find a way to get it done.”
McCown was asked after Sunday’s game what Cutler can do that he cannot.
“Have you seen him throw?” he said. “Obviously, there’s a difference with the velocity at which the ball travels when Jays throws it and when I throw it. So there’s different ways that we have to play the game in different ways we see the game.
“He’s very sharp to be around. I learn a lot from him just watching him play and some of the things he does. There’s a little bit of a different game because he has the capacity to push the ball down the field with his arm strength on some throws that, quite frankly, they don’t really enter my mind to do.
“It’s going to look different. Every quarterback is different. So that’s his gift, and that’s the way he was made, and he plays his game to those strengths, and there’s different things that I do that I try to use as my strengths to help me move our team.”
Asked to elaborate on what he does well, McCown listed several attributes.
“Trying to stay calm,” he said. “Trying to lead the team. Get the guys in and out of the huddle. Be accurate with the football, and use my legs and try to make plays with my feet, as well. Just to name a few. However I need to get it done, get it done. It will probably certainly look different.”
Cornerback Charles Tillman (right knee inflammation) is considered week-to-week, the Bears said.
Bears general manager Phil Emery, asked about the possibility of Brian Urlacher returning to boost the defense, said the former Bears star had filed retirement papers, making the chances “nill.”
Cornerback Tim Jennings was asked who will lead the defense in Briggs’ absence.
“Lance will always be the leader here,” he said. “Even though he’s not on the field playing with us, he’s going to be on the sideline coaching guys up. And we still have Peanut out there. We have myself. We’ve got Julius (Peppers). We’ve still got guys out there who are capable of being the leaders out there. But one guy is not going to carry us all (with Lance out). We just need every guy to do their job and be where he’s supposed to be to pick up the slack now that Lance won’t be out there with us.”
-Chicago Tribune reporting