Bears' Hoyer almost hits 400 yards, but still not guaranteed starter

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Bears quarterback Brian Hoyer (2) tries to pull away from Indianapolis Colts defensive end Zach Kerr (94) during the first half of an NFL football game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016.

    Chicago Bears quarterback Brian Hoyer (2) tries to pull away from Indianapolis Colts defensive end Zach Kerr (94) during the first half of an NFL football game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016.

 
 
Updated 10/9/2016 9:01 PM

INDIANAPOLIS -- Coach John Fox didn't want to debate the merits of fill-in Brian Hoyer holding on to the quarterback job after former starter Jay Cutler has fully recovered from the sprained right thumb that has sidelined him for three games.

Not even after Hoyer's third straight 300-yard passing game, games in which he's had 6 TD passes without an interception.

 

"I'm not going to get into speculation," Fox said. "Jay is not healthy."

Hoyer's career-high 397 passing yards against the Colts swelled his three-game total to 1,016, but the Bears have lost two of the three games.

"It doesn't feel good because we're not winning," the eight-year veteran Hoyer said. "I'm just trying to go out there and execute the game plan. It really doesn't matter if you're not winning the games."

But Hoyer said there are encouraging signs.

"We have a talented group," he said. "The offensive line is coming together. No sacks, receivers getting open, running the ball (well). There's everything to be excited about."

Nothing to kick about:

The 49-yard FG attempt Connor Barth missed wide left late in the third quarter only counts as one, but it was his second chance. His 54-yarder on the previous snap was wide right, but the Colts' T.J. Green was penalized for running into Barth, giving the kicker a second chance.

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Barth connected from 35, 49 and 24 yards vs. the Colts, but he's now hit just 5 of 8 (62.5 percent) since replacing Robbie Gould, who hit 85.4 percent of his attempts in 11 years with the Bears.

Asked if he expected a challenge for his performance this week in practice, Barth said, "Nothing surprises me these days. It's the NFL, so I've just got to go back to work. Those are kicks I usually make; I've got to make.

"I usually hit the ball better than that. I'm not hitting the ball bad, I just have to straighten it out."

Coach John Fox was asked if the team would look at other kickers this week.

"We will take a look at everything, like we always do," Fox said. "The kicker missed 1 kick, and it was (49 yards). I don't know that that was his forte coming in to begin with. I don't think that's on one guy by any stretch."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Not bad for starters:

Teammates were quick to boost up Cam Meredith after his fourth-quarter fumble, which put a damper on an otherwise excellent first NFL start that included 9 catches for 130 yards and a 14-yard TD, the first of his two-year career.

Veteran wide receiver Alshon Jeffery told Meredith: "We're still in the game. It was a big play, but we we're still in the game, and we had a chance. I told him, 'We're still gonna need you, so stay in the game. Just keep your head up and stay focused.'"

Meredith had a 13-yard catch on the ensuing possession and had the most productive day of his career filing in for injured Kevin White.

"I'm grateful, no doubt," the former St. Joseph H.S. Quarterback said. "I put a lot of hard work in, so anytime you can get that type of outcome, I'm definitely going to be proud."

Sack man:

Outside linebacker Willie Young had a career-best 3 sacks and now has a team-best 4 for the season. Going back to last year Young has 9½ in his last 12 games.

As a team, the Bears had 5 sacks, the first game this season they've had more than 2, but it didn't prevent a fourth loss in five games.

"We just have to keep plugging away," Young said. "We'll worry about the things that we can control. The things we can't control -- it's, 'Oh, well.'"

In and out:

Danny Trevathan returned to the starting lineup with a pink cast on his surgical right thumb and had 6 tackles according to press box statistics.

Quarterback Jay Cutler (right thumb), safety Deon Bush, cornerback Deiondre' Hall (ankle), running back Jeremy Langford (ankle), center Eric Kush, nose tackle Eddie Goldman (ankle) and linebacker Leonard Floyd (calf) were inactive.

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

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