Jay Cutler's shoulder injury leaves Barkley likely to start

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Jay Cutler's season might not be over, despite pessimistic reports.

The Chicago Bears quarterback suffered a right shoulder injury and his status for this week is uncertain, although coach John Fox said Wednesday it apppears less signficant than some earlier media reports suggested.

"It's not season ending, contrary to the reports you heard," Fox said.

Cutler suffered the shoulder injury in Sunday's 22-16 loss to the New York Giants, but finished the game.

"You know, in my experience with Jay, he's a tough son of a gun," Fox said. "So he doesn't go typical of the lengths people put into it as far as weeks and whatnot. So, you know, right now he is day to day."

The Bears practiced with Matt Barkley taking all the snaps Wednesday in preparation for Sunday's game at Soldier Field against the Tennessee Titans. It would be Barkley's first NFL start.

Fox was vague on how severe the labrum injury Cutler suffered actually is. He didn't dispute that Cutler has a labrum tear or that he might eventually need surgery.

"Tear is kind of a broad term," Fox said. "It is sore. There is soreness to it. But there is a lot of things in the shoulder that can affect the quarterback. Some of them can be just chronic, old, just wear and tear, like pitchers or quarterbacks in the National Football League.

"So it's injured, but it's not season ending."

Cutler's last pass was an interception to end the Bears' chances Sunday. He is 81 for 137 for 1,059 yards with four touchdown passes and five interceptions this season, and has a passer rating of 78.1.

An earlier thumb injury limited Cutler to five starts this year.

As for his future in Chicago, Cutler no longer has a high salary cap figure, so it becomes more likely he could be traded or cut in the offseason. Fox is looking short term and not big picture.

He said Barkley will be more prepared than he was when the Bears turned to him Oct. 20 in relief of starter Brian Hoyer against Green Bay in a 26-10 loss. Hoyer suffered a broken left arm in the game, and Cutler was already out.

Barkley went 6 for 15 for 81 yards with two interceptions, but had little previous practice time.

"He can make all the throws," Fox said. "It's not too big for him. It's not overwhelming. I think that's pretty important at that position. He handles the audibles pretty well, he understands the offense. He's picked that up pretty quickly. I'm confident in the guy."

Barkley signed with the Bears' practice squad Sept. 4.

"I've been in big games before," said Barkley, who played at USC. "I've played football at a high level. This is the NFL and I'm excited about that, but in my mind it's nothing new to me.

"I'm going to respect Tennessee's defense. They've done a great job thus far, their defense. In my mind, though, it's another game. I've been here before. So I'll just keep playing football."

Barkley is 36 for 65 for 381 yards with six interceptions and no touchdowns in an NFL career that started in 2013 with the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Bears have been ravaged by injuries at all positions. Barkley would be their third quarterback to start this year. Not only did they lose Cutler for five weeks earlier, but they lost Hoyer, and their original third quarterback, Connor Shaw, suffered a broken leg in preseason.

To back up Barkley, the Bears signed one of their own former draft picks, David Fales. He had been cut and signed earlier in the season with Baltimore's practice squad.

Barkley said he won't have to adjust much to throwing to the current Bears receivers. Kevin White's broken leg and a suspension to Alshon Jeffery for a performance enhancing drug policy violation make it so he'd throw in the game to the same backups he threw to with the scout team.

"I'm going to be ready," Barkley said. "I'm not overthinking it, I'm not over-hyped.

"I'm just going to be me and try to win this game."

NOTES: Linebacker Leonard Floyd is in the NFL concussion protocol and missed Wednesday's practice following a scary neck/head injury suffered against the Giants. Floyd is day to day. ... Starting nose tackle Eddie Goldman (ankle), who missed last week's game, was able to practice Wednesday on a limited basis.


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