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updated: 8/13/2012 11:37 PM

Cutler confident in Bears' offensive line

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  • Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was held out of last week's preseason opener against the Denver Broncos.

    Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was held out of last week's preseason opener against the Denver Broncos.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer


BOURBONNAIS -- Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice says he loses sleep worrying about the offensive line protecting Jay Cutler, but that's probably not what will be keeping the Bears' quarterback up nights.

"I've got a couple reasons to lose sleep; I've got a baby, I've got all kinds of stuff going on," said Cutler, whose son was born Wednesday. "But they're going to be fine. Protection wise, we're going to do what we have to protect myself or whoever's in there.

"If we have to keep eight in there, if we have to keep nine in there, that's what we're going to do. We're not going to put those guys in positions where they're going to fail or I'm going to get hit.

"We would like them to step up and be able to block 4-on-4, 5-on-5, but we'll see how it goes."

The coaches decided to hold Cutler out of the preseason opener the day after his big day, and the offense was awful. In Monday night's practice the first team got extended work in 11-on-11 situations, but Cutler says it still might be awhile before the offense is running smoothly.

"We've still got a lot of time," he said. "What we unroll against the Washington Redskins (Saturday) isn't the final product. We want to get in and out of the huddle, and we want to execute plays, but it's not going to be the end of the world if we're not clicking on all cylinders Saturday."

Ahead of schedule:

Most players are told to expect up to 12 months of rehab before they can return to 100 percent following a torn ACL.

But 37-year-old long snapper Patrick Mannelly played in last week's preseason opener just eight months after his knee surgery, and he even had a special-teams tackle.

"Fortunately it was just the ACL," the 15-year veteran said. "A lot of times when you do your ACL, you'll tear the meniscus and everything else. I didn't do any of that.

"Two, Bobby Slater, our director of rehab here, he and I worked our (butts) off. My mentality was, 'I'm not done yet,' and I worked as hard as I could not to be done."

Mannelly already holds the franchise record of having played in 215 games. He's tied with linebackers Bill George and Doug Buffone for most years of service, a record he will eclipse on opening day.

Mannelly, a sixth-round pick out of Duke, is the only player from the 1998 NFL draft class still active with the team that selected him.

The 6-foot-5, 265-pounder admits that when he was hurt in Week 11 last season, he came face to face with his football mortality.

"Sure, I said, 'That might be it,'" he said. "But I played 14 years without a major injury, which was very lucky. I went way longer than I thought I would.

"I went through that whole, 'I might be done, so let's figure out what I might want to do when I get over this if I am done.'

"But I wasn't upset. If it was to be over, it was a heck of a run for me."

Take my wife, please:

Offensive coordinator Mike Tice won't have an ego problem as long as his wife, Diane, is around.

"We always love our wives because they keep us grounded," Tice said. "She said to me (after Sunday's practice), 'Gosh, I see you guys scored a lot of touchdowns in the red zone.' I said, 'Yeah, we have some weapons.' She said, 'Why don't you try getting down there a little bit more?'

"You gotta love your wife, right? We went to high school together, so she's allowed to say that. The worst part is my daughter is tougher."

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