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(AP) — Despite the pounding he endured his last time out, Jay Cutler can’t wait to get back on the field for the Chicago Bears.
Cutler is expected to return after a one-game absence as the first-place Bears host the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.
Chicago’s quarterback was sacked a career-high nine times and suffered a concussion in a 17-3 loss to the New York Giants on Oct. 3. That resulted in him missing a start due to injury for the first time in his career last Sunday against Carolina.
The Pro Bowler has been cleared to play, and is eager to get back under center despite admitting that “there were some moments in the second quarter where I wasn’t completely aware of what was going on” against the Giants.
“It feels good,” Cutler told the team’s official website about his impending return. “It was a long week last week, tough to watch the game. But we got a ‘W’ and I am back this week.”
The Bears earned that 23-6 win over the woeful Panthers despite a poor performance from Cutler’s replacement Todd Collins, who went 6 of 16 for 32 yards and a career-worst four interceptions. Chicago, though, used a powerful run game and dominant defensive effort to get back on track.
After averaging 33.5 rushing yards over the first four games, Matt Forte ran for a career-high 166 yards and two touchdowns, one coming on a 68-yard scamper.
Forte caught seven passes for 151 yards in the season opener, and his receiving ability could be key against a Seahawks team ranked second in the league against the rush at 72.8 yards allowed per game.
Julius Peppers led the defensive effort against his former team last week, recording four tackles and a spectacular interception off his own deflected pass.
The Bears, looking to open 3-0 at home for the second straight season, will be facing a Seattle team trying to avoid its third consecutive 0-3 start on the road.
While the Seahawks (2-2) were off last week, they have been busy on the personnel front. They acquired running back Marshawn Lynch, who will make his Seattle debut Sunday, on Oct. 5 from Buffalo and dealt receiver Deion Branch to New England on Tuesday.
Lynch is excited for the chance to have an impact on the Seahawks’ 29th-ranked rushing attack.
“I feel this change is a great opportunity for me, not only in football, but in life as well,” Lynch, who ran for 164 yards in four games with the Bills this season, said after the deal. “Everything that happened with me I feel is an opportunity, the things that come out of it, the way I handle it. This is another one and I plan to handle this situation just as good as I handled the rest. I say that because I’m still here standing.”
The Seahawks are averaging 79.5 rushing yards per game.
Lynch joins Justin Forsett, who leads Seattle with 215 rushing yards, to give the Seahawks what could be a formidable 1-2 punch.
That running back tandem will face an immediate challenge in Chicago’s third-ranked rush defense. The Bears are giving up 78.6 yards a contest on the ground.
“Well, it’s going to take some proving here,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told the team’s official website. “We’re going out against a really good football team, particularly against the run. Chicago has been unbelievably difficult to run the football at.”
With Branch’s departure, Deon Butler will start and split time at flanker with Ben Obomanu and recently signed Brandon Stokley.
Seattle has lost two of the last three meetings with Chicago, falling 25-19 last Sept. 27 at Qwest Field. The Bears rallied to win on Devin Hester’s 36-yard touchdown pass from Cutler with 1:52 left.
Updated October 13, 2010