|It's unclear when quarterback Jay Cutler will play after being concussed against the Texans on Sunday. (US Presswire)|
Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler's ability to play this week against San Francisco after suffering a concussion on Sunday against the Texans will remain uncertain for at least another day, if not until very late in the week.
The Chicago Bears did not practice Wednesday due to playing their next game being on Monday instead of Sunday, and coach Lovie Smith wasn't about to reveal his starter or details about the severity of Cutler's concussion on a day when no injury report is required.
Several different media reports have said Cutler is doubtful to play but none revealed a source with the Bears organization or close to Cutler.
It does seem logical Cutler will sit, however. The most revealing aspect of the situation is the team signed former backup Josh McCown to a contract on Tuesday and had him in the locker room Wednesday in case he has to be backup to Jason Campbell, who was signed in free agency specifically for this type of situation.
"Jay is getting better," Smith said. "That is all I can say right now. I am not going to go into exactly each step he has taken and things like that and I think you can understand why.
"We will be back out on the practice field tomorrow. We can give you a little bit better idea of where he is then. As much as anything, without going on the practice field, he is getting better like all of our guys are."
Cutler's three concussions in the NFL and some he was reported to have while at Vanderbilt have led to questions about his longevity in the league.
"Whether it's two [concussions] or whatever, he's not going to go back, he's not going to start practicing until he is completely healed and ready to go," Smith said. "He won't play, of course, until there are no issues with that."
The concern leaguewide over concussions and three concussions suffered last weekend by starting QBs have led to attention being focused on the issue. Smith previously said he doesn't want to play "Dr. Smith," but insisted the team's policy toward players suffering from concussions remains the same regardless of any guidelines or concerns.
"I know right now we are talking a lot more about concussions daily," he said. "And everyone has an opinion on them but I would say that they have always been there. Again, we're treating them the same way we have always. If a guy is in trouble, you don't play him. Once he doesn't have symptoms and he can start practicing, he can start playing, we play them."
On the surface, the whole situation looks something like last year when Cutler went out the final six games with a broken thumb. At the time, the Bears held out hope they'd get him back in time for a playoff push.
"Yeah, but we're better off I think," center Roberto Garza said. "We're a better team. We have to play better than we have and Jason has the experience that we talked about. We have a lot of guys that want to get better and are going to this week.”
McCown is in a similar situation to last year when the team brought him in after a stint as an assistant high school football coach. He did the same thing this year -- and is back with the Bears.
But it's easier this time than last year when he underwent a crash course in former coordinator Mike Martz's offense.
"There's more familiarity having been in camp (in August," he said.
Last year, the thought was the Bears' running game would make it possible for a backup to win, but the running game has been inconsistent this season. And trying to run Monday on the 49ers might not be the best approach.
"Coach said this is a really good defense and we'll be lucky to get five-yard pops at a time because they are so skilled back there," tackle Gabe Carimi said. "It's the best linebacker corps that we've faced so far."
Follow Bears reporter Gene Chamberlain on Twitter @CBSBears.