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Jay Cutler’s strain means Jimmy Clausen to start

John Fox’s assertion Monday that Bears quarterback Jay Cutler suffered a strained hamstring means that he’ll return soon — though not Sunday.

Backup Jimmy Clausen will start for the Bears in Seattle, a source told the Sun-Times, while Cutler is likely to be out for at least two games.

Earlier Monday, the coach refused to rule Cutler out as Sunday’s starter, saying that he didn’t need to practice during the week in order to play. Wednesday’s league-mandated injury report will be the first indication if, as expected, Fox was simply engaging in gamesmanship with the Seahawks.

Still, the diagnosis of a strain was encouraging, given the alternative.

“Any time it’s not real severe, I think it’s good news,” Fox said.

The Bears need Cutler to return soon. He’s their fastest, if not only, way to return to relevance this season.
Even the most strident Bears believers could foresee them starting the season 0-3 against perhaps the NFC’s best three teams.

A Week 4 home disaster against the Raiders can’t be ruled out, but the Bears are banking on their younger players growing and their veterans meshing into the new schemes as the season wears on.

Fox said the team had not decided whether to sign a quarterback. It seems likely to promote David Fales from the practice squad to back up Clausen.

The Notre Dame alum completed 14-of-23 passes for 121 yards and an interception against the Cardinals, but the Bears believe he’ll be sharper with increased practice snaps. Any quarterback, though, is likely to struggle in the home opener of a hungry 0-2 Seattle team.

“I think at the quarterback position it’s a little tougher because you have to be in tune to everybody else completely,” Fox said. “But I think all in all he did OK.”

The Bears need their quarterback to be more than that. Their defense has allowed 79 points in 120 minutes, and has yet to record a sack. Their special teams have up a 108-yard kickoff return score Sunday before the fighter jets doing the pregame fly-by could land.

Fox refused to assign fault Monday for the botched sight adjustment between Cutler and tight end Martellus Bennett that led to Tony Jefferson’s pick-six — and the injury. It’s possible the mistake wasn’t the quarterback’s fault.
Before throwing his interception Sunday, Cutler completed all eight pass attempts for 120 yards and a touchdown. And that was without receiver Alshon Jeffery, who has been a full participant in exactly two full practices since preseason games began.

“You can always say what if? But we got to work with what you got,” wide receiver Eddie Royal said. “You got to get out there and go play right now.”

Cutler likely won’t. Speaking generally, hamstring injuries are “usually a pretty debilitating thing for a quarterback,” said Pietro Tonino, program director of Sports Medicine at Loyola University Medical Center, because it makes it harder to transfer energy from the abdominal area when throwing.

Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley
Email: pfinley@suntimes.com