Cutler ready to step right back in for Bears

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, back in the starter's role for the season finale at Minnesota, talks to Jimmy Clausen near the end of Sunday's loss to the Lions at Soldier Field.

    Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, back in the starter's role for the season finale at Minnesota, talks to Jimmy Clausen near the end of Sunday's loss to the Lions at Soldier Field. John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 12/24/2014 5:31 PM

Benched for last week's game, quarterback Jay Cutler assumed he'd be watching from the sidelines again this week when he left Soldier Field on Sunday evening.

Jimmy Clausen had played a decent game as the new starter and, although he had taken a helmet-to-helmet hit from Detroit defensive end Ziggy Ansah, wasn't showing any adverse reactions afterward.

 

"I knew he took a shot, but he did his postgame press conference," Cutler said. "He said he was cool. I went home thinking I was going to watch another game, but it's been one of those years where you never know what's going to happen."

Especially in this year's 5-10 march to mediocrity. Cutler didn't find out he was back in the lineup until a day after Clausen was diagnosed.

"I talked to him Sunday night, and he said he had a headache," Cutler said. "But it wasn't definite until Monday."

In his eighth year as a starter, including six with the Bears, stepping back into the lineup won't be much of an adjustment for Cutler, who said there was minimal benefit to his week of watching from the sideline.

"You play so many games and you sit out one, it was more of a bye week," Cutler said. "The things I did pick up, I talked about with Cav (quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh) and Tress (coach Marc Trestman)."

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Offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer -- whose criticism of Cutler to an NFL Network reporter early in the month added a chapter to this season's dysfunction -- says a week off shouldn't bother the quarterback.

"I don't know if there will be any effect one way or the other, whether he played last week or not," Kromer said. "He's been focused this week, and he's worked hard at it, he's worked with the guys, he's communicated, and we expect a good game out of him."

Both the Bears and the Minnesota Vikings (6-9) have little more than pride to play for in an anticlimactic season finale. The game will be played outdoors in temperatures well below freezing and in front of a less-than-capacity crowd.

Cutler agreed that the enthusiasm in and around the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium could be somewhat subdued.

"(It's) the situation that both teams are in, and it's going to be cold, and we've got to go away," Cutler said. "But I know on Sunday, the guys in the huddle, we'll find a way to rally."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Cutler's future with the Bears is in doubt, but he knows where his motivation will come from at game time.

"The guys in the locker room," he said. "The guys that have been in the huddle all year long, that I've been with. Those are the guys that I'll play for this week."

In this year's the first meeting with the Vikings six weeks ago, the Bears spotted Minnesota a 10-0 lead but rallied for a 21-13 victory. The defense yielded a season-low 243 total yards, 138 below its 2014 average.

The Vikings are 2-3 since then, and the 3 losses are by a combined 7 points, including a 3-point loss to Green Bay and a 2-point defeat at Detroit.

The way the Bears' season has gone, none of it may mean anything.

"You've got to expect the least expected at this point," Cutler said. "Hopefully we make it through the next couple days without something else happening. You never know though."

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

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