Cutler practices, but status for Sunday unknown
Quarterback Jay Cutler practiced Thursday for the first time since suffering a concussion on Nov. 11, but he was limited.
Cutler still must be cleared by an independent neurologist before he can suit up Sunday against the Vikings at Soldier Field.
Defensive end Shea McClellin, who also suffered a concussion in the same game, was a full participant.
"It's looking better for them to get them out on the football field," said Bears coach Lovie Smith.
Backup quarterback Jason Campbell (ribs) was also limited, as were wide receiver Brandon Marshall (shoulder) and defensive tackles Stephen Paea (shoulder) and Matt Toeaina. Tight end Kellen Davis (ankle) did not practice.
Rock and a hard place:
Offensive coordinator Mike Tice's play-calling has been criticized in recent weeks, but in his defense, his hands are tied by an offensive line that has allowed 34 sacks — second most in the NFL.
"When you're calling three-step drops — not to push the blame or anything like that — but when you're calling three-step drops, your last fear or anxiety is a sack," Tice said. "So that kind of catches you a little bit. It does affect some of what you're doing. But that's not an excuse. If we don't have rhythm, that's my fault. We have to find a way."
On Wednesday, Tice was asked about the possibility of quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates taking over the play-calling duties while the coordinator continued to work with the offensive line. Tice said, "We're looking at everything."
But coach Lovie Smith put the kibosh on talk of a change.
"There's no consideration of that," Smith said. "I don't know where you got that from. I doubt if Mike really said that. If he did, I can stop that right now. That's not part of it at all.
"Mike works with our offensive line quite a bit with Tim Holt. We need to do a better job with it, like we all need to do a better job. Beyond that, it's business like we've been doing it."
Covering all bases:
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said he would assume Jay Cutler will be back at quarterback for the Bears after missing Monday night's game wit a concussion.
"We're probably going to prepare as if Jay is going to start," Frazier said. "We'll definitely watch tape of Jason (Campbell) and what he's done these last couple of games against the Texans and 49ers. But we definitely want to see what happens as the week goes on.
"I'm not sure when we'll know one way or another. I don't know if we'll know until Sunday. But I think we'll prepare as if Jay's going to start."
Doesn't look good:
Coach Leslie Frazier said the Vikings hope to have wide receiver Percy Harvin back for Sunday after he missed their previous game with an ankle injury.
Harvin is still tied for eighth in the NFL with 62 receptions and, since entering the league in 2009, he has 5 kickoff-return touchdowns, more than anyone in the NFL. Only the Bears' Devin Hester (6) has more combined (punt and kickoff) kick-return touchdowns.
"We really need him," said Frazier, who held Harvin out of practice Wednesday and Thursday. "We're hoping to have him."
Guard Chris Riley, an Illinois State product from Wadsworth, Ill., was signed to the practice squad Thursday.
The 6-foot-5, 305-pounder was signed by the Bengals as an undrafted free agent in 2011, but he spent the majority of last season on the Bucs' practice squad season being released by Cincinnati. Riley started 31 games at ISU, playing left tackle as a junior and right tackle as a senior.
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