Bears gratified that Jay Cutler’s injury won’t knock him out for season
BY PATRICK FINLEY Staff Reporter October 21, 2013 9:14PM
Updated: November 23, 2013 6:29AM
The postmortem on Jay Cutler’s season, and perhaps his Bears career, will have to wait.
The quarterback’s left groin injury — suffered when he was sacked by, and then rolled over, the Redskins’ Chris Baker — was diagnosed as a tear after an MRI exam on Monday.
While that produced a “coulda-been-worse” mantra around Halas Hall, Cutler is expected to miss at least four weeks and will be week-to-week afterward.
But he will return this season.
“I’m certain,” general manager Phil Emery said. “Unless there’s a complication during his rehab, I would say with the injury that he has, I’m certain he’ll be back at some point.”
If he does, Cutler will have another chance to impress Emery in his the last year of his contract.
Emery wouldn’t discuss Cutler’s pending free agency — his approach all season, with all players — but likes what he has seen thus far.
Cutler has completed 146 of 225 passes for 1,658 yards, with 12 touchdowns, seven interceptions and three fumbles.
In his six full games with the Bears, the team was sixth in the NFL in yards per play and seventh in passing yards per play.
Cutler’s 91.7 passer rating is the best of his eight-year career.
“I thought he’s had a good year,” Emery said. “He’s improved as a player.
“I’ve said it in the past: I’m a Jay Cutler fan. I continue to be. His overall demeanor and his calmness has improved.
“He’s certainly gotten the ball out faster. He’s hitting more targets. He’s been a key part in our leadership in leading us to victory.”
He said he “didn’t see a pattern” with Cutler’s injury history, and doesn’t view him as injury-prone.
“We’d like to see him back as soon as possible,” said Emery, who added that Cutler and all Bears players are free to seek outside medical counsel, if they wish. “He’s a very valuable part of our team.
“In terms of his future, to me, that future is the immediacy of bringing him back.”
The timetable starts at four weeks, though the week-to-week caveat is significant.
Emery said the team’s research indicates a “minimum of four weeks — and from there it varies.”
Coach Marc Trestman sounded confident in the prognosis of the injury, which he said was “highly documented.” Early Monday, Trestman read a medical paper given him by a team doctor that indicated four weeks was a “reasonable start.”
Groin strains are placed into three categories, with Cutler having the most severe. Grade 1 injuries stretch the muscle fibers, but do not tear them. Grade 2 strains are partial tears, and Grade 3 injuries feature a “significant tearing,” said Dr. Jeff Mjaanes, a sports medicine specialist at Rush University Medical Center.
Mjaanes, who does not treat Cutler, said tears occur in the middle of the muscle or at the ends, where the groin muscle attaches to the bone with tendons.
Cutler tore the middle of the muscle, he surmised.
Tears near the tendons typically require surgery, and Cutler will not have one.
Rehabilitation, he said, usually has three steps: regaining flexibility, strengthening the muscle and then using in an athletic capacity.
“The bottom line of it is,” Trestman said, “there’s been enough references to say that this is something that Jay could come back with.”
Trestman described Cutler — who went 3-for-8 before his second-quarter injury — as “disappointed” but in a “good frame of mind” on Monday.
“He’s not done for the year, so it’s not that bad,” tight end Martellus Bennett said. “It’s four weeks, and he’ll be back out with us. Five weeks. If you lose a guy for a whole year, it’s a little bit different.”
If Cutler does come back, it might not affect next year’s potential paycheck, either.
“The most important thing with Jay’s injury is when he gets back,” Emery said. “We’ll look forward to him coming back.”