By Adam Hoge-
HALAS HALL (CBS) — Jay Cutler and Kristin Cavallari were supposed to spend the bye week at their home in Nashville.
Instead, the Bears’ quarterback spent most of it at Halas Hall. And when he wasn’t at Halas Hall, he was rehabbing his injured groin somewhere else.
“Jay took it upon himself, literally, 24-7, doing everything he could to rehab,” Bears head coach Marc Trestman said.
OK, so maybe not literally. But Cutler and a number of unheralded members of the Bears’ training staff worked tirelessly to get the quarterback ready to play Sunday against the Lions, just three weeks after suffering the injury.
“I felt like (the bye week) would give me a lot of time to be able to make a push for this game,” Cutler said Thursday after getting cleared by the doctors. “Last week I felt if things kept progressing I would definitely have a chance for this game. Early last week I had a sense this could be a real factor.”
Cutler passed an evaluation Thursday morning at Halas Hall and was back on the practice field hours later. Trestman said he took every rep in practice and Cutler said he felt 100 percent.
So how did the quarterback get back in 18 days when the team initially said he would miss “at least” four weeks?
The easiest explanation is that the star quarterback of an NFL franchise has resources most do not.
In this case, three men and two three-letter acronyms had a lot to do with Cutler’s expedited return.
Bobby Slater, the team’s director of rehabilitation, and Chris Hanks, the head athletic trainer, put in extra work, while Josh Akin, the team chiropractor, spent hours with Cutler every day doing soft tissue work.
“If I wasn’t here, I was with Josh getting chiropractic work and if I wasn’t with Josh I was on the ARP. I put some time in to get back and get to this point,” Cutler said.
ARP stands for Accelerated Recovery Performance, which is a machine that breaks down scar tissue to allow increased blood flow to the injured area, thus accelerating healing time. The ARP machine is becoming more popular among NFL players, including Bears running back Matt Forte and cornerback Charles Tillman, who have used it in the past.
Cutler also underwent PRP injections, otherwise known as platelet-rich plasma, which stimulates healing of soft tissue. The injections are somewhat controversial, but are legal in the NFL.
The treatment and hard work from the training staff — along with the commitment by Cutler — allowed the quarterback to get cleared in time for Thursday’s practice, the first since the Bears beat the Packers on Monday in Green Bay.
“If I wasn’t back to 100 percent or they had any doubts in it, I wouldn’t have been practicing today. That was the stipulation,” Cutler said. “They were going to let Josh (McCown) have another crack at it and I was going to have to sit this one out.”
Some critics will undoubtedly question the decision to allow Cutler to play this week, but Trestman was clear all along that Cutler would return when the doctors cleared him to play. One report Thursday indicated that Cutler’s mechanics were off during the limited portion of practice open to the media, but that’s an opinion the Bears obviously do not share, otherwise the quarterback would not have been cleared to play. While some will point to backup Josh McCown’s 100.2 passer rating as a reason to give Cutler another week of rest, it’s also a reason why the Bears did not need to rush him back.
The Bears say Cutler is not limited at all and will be able to run the entire offense, but that won’t ultimately be tested until he takes the field Sunday against the Lions. If anything is holding him back, it will be when he has to elude the Lions’ potent pass rush or throw deep passes, both of which rely on the adductor muscle he tore.
“We can do some stuff (to practice avoiding the rush), but the biggest thing is once you get in the game, it’s just reactionary stuff,” Cutler said. “Your brain’s not gonna be able to say, ‘Hey, alright, I want you to step right.’ It just happens. We tried to mimic that as much as possible. I thought we did a good job of that the last three days. I feel ready. That’s the biggest thing. We’ve talked to all the doctors. Personally, I feel ready. We still have a couple of days to let it heal even more.”
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.