(CBS) Bears quarterback Jay Cutler will have surgery on his broken right thumb and the team is hopeful he will return before the end of the regular season.
The Bears confirmed the injury Monday and said the quarterback would indeed need surgery, although they did not say when the procedure would occur.
“We’re not the first team to lose their starting quarterback,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said at a news conference at Halas Hall on Monday. “He’s having surgery, he’ll be back this year.”
Cutler broke the thumb in Sunday’s 31-20 win over the San Diego Chargers while attempting to shed a block after an interception.
The Bears will move forward with Caleb Hanie as their starting quarterback, but Smith said they will look to add a veteran backup quarterback to the roster.
“Hanie is the starting quarterback and our football team feels comfortable with him leading us,” Smith said.
Hanie’s last significant playing time came in last season’s NFC Championship Game when he nearly led the Bears to a stunning fourth quarter comeback before throwing an interception that was returned by the Packers for a touchdown.
Smith said the Bears will rely on their running game and defense more with Cutler out of the lineup.
“We are losing and we are going to miss a great player for a period of time,” Smith said.
Still, the head coach insisted Cutler’s injury is not season-ending.
“We feel good about the surgery and we plan on having him back at the end of the regular season.”