Happenings at Halas: Jay Cutler cleared to play - New York News

Happenings at Halas: Jay Cutler cleared to play

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Jay Cutler is cleared to play, so he will, ending any debate nationally and locally that Josh McCown should get another chance to build on his career-best performances.

"There was never a debate in this building," Cutler said. "That's where my concern lies."

Head Coach Marc Trestman made the announcement as practice ended, reiterating over and over again that this really wasn't an agonizing choice.

"This decision was made a long time ago, that when he was ready to play, he'll play. That's how we planned to do it," Trestman said.

The head coach emphasized the point no less than three times while addressing the media. Guess it didn't matter that McCown ran this offense more efficiently than Cutler.

Shouldn't that irritate McCown? I mean, three days after putting together a Monday night performance that was deemed best in the NFC, he's back to holding a clipboard freezing his butt off in Cleveland...or wherever. But Josh McCown is not like that. He's more mature than that...maybe than most pro-athletes.

"You want guys on your roster that understand their role. I understand my role on this team is the back-up quarterback. So now I'm going to help him as much as I can," McCown said.

His performance has earned the respect of his teammates and he knows that how he handles this situation will be will be seen by his teammates. So he added: "If all 53 men on the roster want to serve their team, good things can happen."

I believe this is the key to McCown's success. His focus was on the team winning, not on getting a contract or what he gets out of it. It's impressive. And it's not as dramatic as it could be.

The Bears have been so clear that Cutler is the starter. So this is not shocking in the least. Cutler missed being in that position and learned from watching McCown manage the game, and his teammates. Though, Jay is who he is. He's not feeling pressure to match McCown's numbers (who ever imagined we'd say that?!) or feeling more pressure facing three must-win games to wrap up a contract season. He cannot worry about it and won't. That remains a post season discussion. And Cutler knows, as we all do, General Manager Phil Emery has a plan. Whatever it may be, he has a plan.

Cutler says there is always pressure to make the playoffs. McCown was under the same. But hopes of the post season can vanish with a loss to 4-9 Cleveland. So Cutler stating the obvious, his concentration is on finding a way to beat Cleveland. A 100% healthy starting quarterback certainly can't hurt.

Injuries: Lance Briggs returned to practice for the first time since his shoulder fracture suffered on October 20th. He was limited today, but it's progress. Trestman says he's not any more optimistic Briggs can play Sunday, but they will re-evaluate him on Friday morning. It's nice to see Jay Cutler as a full participant in practice for the first time in a month.

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