The Bears will rely on rehab, rather than surgery, to try to fix Jay Cutler’s right thumb, coach John Fox said Tuesday.
Sources told the Sun-Times that the quarterback first hurt his thumb in the season-opening loss to the Texans, and that the injury typically takes three-to-four weeks to heal.
Fox wouldn’t confirm either point, though. Asked when Cutler was injured, Fox said he “probably originally hurt his thumb five years ago,” when he had surgery to fix a fracture suffered while trying to tackle the Chargers’ Antoine Cason following an interception.
Fox said, though, that the injury was not a chronic issue last year, his first with the Bears.
He said he was “surprised during the game” that Cutler was hurt. The quarterback said Monday he “aggravated” the injury early against the Eagles and couldn’t grip the ball, while Fox intimated Tuesday the injury happened during the strip sack of Cutler on the first drive of the third quarter.
“I think the play that we fumbled on,” said Fox, who claimed Cutler came out after trainers told him of it. “I mean you’d have to ask him, I can’t tell you exactly.”
While stopping short of denying that Cutler was hurt in Houston, Fox stressed that the quarterback “practiced every play” last week. To say otherwise would have put the Bears in league crosshairs, as Cutler never appeared on the injury report.
“I’m concerned,” Cutler said Monday. “As a quarterback, you kind of need your right thumb.”
Cutler has shown a knack for quick healing. He missed only one start after suffering a hamstring injury — also, trying to tackle a defender after his interception — in Week 2 last year. Three years ago, Cutler was supposed to miss at least a month because of a groin injury; he returned in three weeks.
Fox wouldn’t eliminate surgery “down the road,” but it doesn’t appear he’ll need it to return.
“I think he’s shown toughness,” Fox said. “I’ve mentioned that in the past. I don’t think that’s a question. Right now we’re not playing as crisp as we need to on offense. And that includes everybody, the coaches, myself, the players. All our signatures are on it.”
He’ll turn to backup Brian Hoyer if, as expected, Cutler is unable to play. Hoyer — who is 15-11 as a starter — completed 9-of-12 passes Monday for 78 yards.
That Cutler was injured Monday night, rather than a typical Sunday afternoon, doesn’t help his chances of playing against the Cowboys.
“It’s hard for me to give timelines,” Fox said. “We’ll evaluate (Wednesday). We’ve got practice (Wednesday), we’re on a short week already. If Jay’s ready to do it, fine. If not, we’ll go with Brian Hoyer.”