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updated: 10/26/2013 11:49 PM

Bears ready to turn offense over to McCown

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  • Bears quarterback Josh McCown talks with head coach Marc Trestman during the second half of last Sunday's loss at Washington.

      Bears quarterback Josh McCown talks with head coach Marc Trestman during the second half of last Sunday's loss at Washington.
    Associated Press

 
 

There are some similarities between injured Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and his backup, Josh McCown, who will be running the offense for the next month or so.

At 6-feet-4 and 213 pounds, McCown is just an inch taller than Cutler and 7 pounds lighter.

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Both are athletic enough to buy time in the pocket or to make plays with their legs when necessary, though neither is considered a threat to run like Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick or Robert Griffin III.

There also are some major differences, which the 34-year-old McCown pointed out when asked what the 29-year-old Cutler does that he can't.

"Have you seen him throw?" McCown said, laughing. "Obviously there's a difference in the velocity the ball travels (at) when Jay throws it and when I throw it.

"It's going to look different; our skill sets are different. Every guy in America wishes he could throw the ball like Jay Cutler."

Cutler's fastball is exceptional. But there was no lack of arm strength evident when McCown relieved Cutler at Washington last Sunday. He completed 14 of 20 passes for 204 yards, 1 touchdown, no interceptions and a 119.6 passer rating that was the second highest of his 11-year career.

McCown orchestrated a frantic comeback that fell just short, and he did it without the benefit of first-team reps over the previous two months. He will get those in abundance now.

"I think our football team feels that it can rally around Josh," coach Marc Trestman said. "And he's going to put us in a position to win games."

McCown won't do it by firing lasers into tiny openings, something Cutler can do -- sometimes.

"He has big-play capabilities because of his arm, and as a leader, too," McCown said of Cutler. "The bar was set high by Jay. I'm thankful to get the opportunity to be here.

"You never want it under these circumstances, but to be able to step in for him, I respect the heck out of him, and it's an honor to play in his place.

"Hopefully I can keep us going and keep us in a good position so that when he does come back we're in the hunt and making a run."

McCown is expected to make at least three starts while Cutler heals, which would be McCown's most extensive playing time in six years.

In 2007 he went 2-7 as a starter for a lousy Oakland Raiders team. Since then has started just two games, going 1-1 for the Bears at the end of the 2011 season after being out of football in 2010.

His current situation is a long way from the one that he first came into after signing with the Bears in late November 2011, after Cutler fractured his thumb.

When Cutler suffered a concussion in Week 10 last season, the Bears, who had released McCown in final cuts, reached out to him again, but he never got in a game. After that, though, McCown was re-signed and has had the benefit of a full off-season this time.

"Two years ago I got here and I had been coaching high school ball, which served me well," he said. "But I don't think you can trade anything for real reps, going through OTAs and training camp. I'm in a better spot right now. Being here from Day One with Marc (Trestman), learning this from the ground up, it's been beneficial.

"Hopefully it continues to pay dividends on the field."

The Bears' season depends on it.

•Follow Bob's NFL and Bears reports on Twitter @BobLeGere.

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