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updated: 10/19/2013 9:56 PM

Shanahan taught a young Cutler plenty in Denver

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Jay Cutler learned a lot from Mike Shanahan, who was his head coach during his first three years in the league with the Broncos.

"Just how the game is played," Cutler said. "It's hard as a young player with situational football, knowing when to take some chances. On third-and-long, just being able to check it down and punt the ball. Protecting the ball in the red zone, (winning) the turnover battle.

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"Just being able to manage the game. It's hard as a young player. As you get older, you start realizing exactly what he was talking about."

Cutler hopes he can put some of that knowledge to use Sunday against Shanahan's Washington team. His 95.2 passer rating is the highest of his career through the first six games.

Getting a shot:

Rookie David Bass got a late start with the Bears, but he's played his way onto the field as a backup defensive end on an injury-depleted line.

The 6-foot-4, 256-pound Bass was drafted in the seventh round by the Raiders but waived in the final cutdown. He was claimed immediately by the Bears, saw limited action (14 snaps) in Week 5 and then had 2 tackles while playing 29 snaps in the Week 6 victory over the Giants.

"We liked him when he walked in the door," defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said. "He's earned an opportunity to play. We just want to continue to help him improve. He's willing to put the work in and we're putting the work in from a coaching standpoint.

"He's gotten better since he's been here. He continues to improve."

Bass had 40 career sacks at Division-II Missouri Western State, including 11 as a senior.

Elder statesman:

Rex Grosssman was the Bears' second first-round pick in 2003 (22nd overall), eight picks after Michael Haynes, and he helped guide them to their last Super Bowl appearance during his inconsistent and injury-riddled six years.

Now he backs up and mentors young Washington quarterbacks Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins.

"Rex is a great guy, a natural leader," 'Skins coach Mike Shanahan said. "He did a good job for us when we didn't have a lot of depth and a lot of talent. I just like the way he handles himself. When he does play he's played well."

Grossman, 33, has yet to take a snap this season, and he didn't throw a single pass last season. But he started 13 games for the 'Skins in 2011 and had a 5-8 record and a 72.4 passer rating while throwing 16 TD passes and 20 INTs.

Double trouble:

Washington linebackers Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo have as many sacks between them as the entire Bears team -- 8, including 5 by Kerrigan.

In nickel situations they move to defensive end. But wherever they line up, they create matchup problems.

"You can't block them with running backs," Bears coach Marc Trestman said. "You've got to block them with linemen or big people. That exposes the internal areas and allows them to internally blitz and make some things happen."

The 'Skins' defense is No. 6 in sack percentage, while the Bears are No. 4 at preventing sacks.

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