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updated: 11/14/2012 4:46 PM

Smith: Cutler improving, but no timetable for return

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  • Bears head coach Lovie Smith says Jay Cutler is improving, but he won't practice or play until doctors say he's completely healed and ready.

    Bears head coach Lovie Smith says Jay Cutler is improving, but he won't practice or play until doctors say he's completely healed and ready.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer/file


Bears coach Lovie Smith didn't shed any new light Wednesday afternoon on the condition of concussed quarterback Jay Cutler, except to say, "He's getting better."

Because they don't play the San Francisco 49ers until next Monday night, the Bears didn't practice Wednesday. But even when they return to the practice field on Thursday, Cutler isn't expected to participate after getting knocked out of Sunday night's game following a hit shortly before halftime.

"We're still evaluating him," Smith said. "He's meeting with people, seeing medical staff, our trainers and all of that."

Smith was unsure if Cutler would be treated differently because he has had concussions in the past, most recently 25 months ago when he was sacked nine times in the first half against the New York Giants.

"We will do everything possible to get him back up to par and all of that," Smith said. "Whether it's two (concussions) or whatever, he's not going to go back, he's not going to start practicing, until he is completely healed and ready to go. He won't play of course until there are no issues with that. It will all take care of itself."

The NFL fined Texans linebacker Tim Dobbins, whose helmet-to-helmet hit did the damage to Cutler, $30,000 on Wednesday, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Despite the severity of the collision, Smith said he wasn't focusing on any long-term concerns with Cutler.

"I'm just worried about the one (concussion) that he had the other night," Smith said. "You can't look into the future or anything like that. Every case is different. Jay's feeling a whole lot better, I just know that. It will all play out."

In the likely event that Cutler doesn't play, Smith says he's confident in backup Jason Campbell, who has started 70 NFL games in his previous seven seasons.

"We like our backup plan at the quarterback position," Smith said. "We like Jason Campbell; been saying that all along, and the reason why we like him is based on what we've seen from him in meetings, practice field, training camp, all those different situations.

"We brought him here for a situation like this, if it comes. If Jay can't go, we have a good backup plan, and that's the best position you can be in if your starter can't go. Jason Campbell has played good football in the NFL. He came in with a limited amount of reps Sunday night and did an OK job. If he has to play this week, he'll do an even better job."

Campbell's career passer rating of 82.8 coming into this season was only slightly lower than Cutler's 84.5. But he hasn't started a game in more than a year, not since Oct. 16, 2011, when he suffered a fractured collarbone against the Browns that ended his season with the Oakland Raiders.

Center Roberto Garza said the transition to Campbell wouldn't be difficult.

"We've been around him all off-season and training camp," Garza said. "We've heard his cadence. It comes down to just hearing the plays and going out there and executing. We don't have to do anything different; we just have to do it better."

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