Jay Cutler caught an underhanded snap from Bears quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh early in practice Thursday. He dropped back to pass, shuffled right, then forward, then threw a 10-yard pass to his left.
The simple passing drill was a significant milestone for Cutler as he returned to practice for the first time since suffering a high left ankle sprain Nov. 10.
But the favorable news stopped there.
He will miss Monday night’s game against the Cowboys, his fourth straight on the sideline. Coach Marc Trestman on Thursday ruled him out 10 days after Cutler said on his radio show he “would be pretty disappointed if I wasn’t able to play for (the Cowboys) game.”
Trestman, however, reiterated his belief Cutler will play again this season, meaning the Bears should expect to change quarterbacks from backup Josh McCown to Cutler during the final postseason push this month.
“I know the type of fighter Jay is,” left tackle Jermon Bushrod said. “I have only been here for a few months, but I know the passion he has toward this game and toward this team. We want him to come back and be himself. But if things don’t work out, they don’t work out, and we’ll go hit it with Josh.”
Cutler quarterbacked the scout team during Thursday’s practice. He declined the Tribune’s interview request afterward.
Trestman was not sure of Cutler’s status for the Dec. 15 road game against the Browns, saying that will be evaluated next week. Cutler on his radio show Nov. 25 characterized a return for the Browns game as a worst-case scenario.
Trestman said Cutler was not deflated because he failed to meet his Dec. 9 target to return.
“Jay is very clear on where he is medically,” Trestman said. “He’s continuing to progress. We’ve been very, very clear that he has to be released by the doctors before he can play, and he has come to terms with that. He’s a strong-willed and strong-minded guy. He can’t control this decision on Monday other than to continue to work on his rehab.”
Cutler sprained his ankle late in the first half Nov. 10 against the Lions. He stayed in the game and played into the fourth quarter after Bears medical staffers expressed belief he could not damage the ankle more extensively.
Since then, the Bears have insisted Cutler did no additional harm to ankle by continuing to play.
Cutler on Nov. 18 created an air of mystery about the injury when he said on his radio show: “There are a couple of ligaments we’re a little bit worried about that are different than a normal high ankle sprain.”
Neither the team nor Cutler offered further details or explanation.
Cutler’s injuries have been a major subplot in the final season of his contract. He has not finished a game since the Oct. 10 victory over the Giants. He suffered a torn groin muscle against the Redskins on Oct. 20 and was sidelined for the Nov. 4 game against the Packers.
The Bears have won two of the four games Cutler has missed this season. McCown, who started all four of those, will start Monday.
Trestman, meanwhile, looks to Cutler’s return.
“I was encouraged today just by the work that he got in considering the injury wasn’t that long ago, so we’ll see where he is next week,” Trestman said. “But it was a good first day for him to come out and get some work. He threw the ball very, very well.”
Courtesy: Rich Campbell | Tribune reporter
The one-year contract the Chicago Bears signed defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff to this week includes no guaranteed money or incentives.
His $840,000 annual salary is the minimum for a player with eight accrued NFL seasons. However, it counts only $395,294 against the salary cap because payments are divided by the 17 weeks of the regular season, and there are only eight weeks remaining.
Ratliff, who now prefers to be called Jeremiah instead of Jay, as he was known for his eight seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, did not practice this week. However, he attended last Friday’s session and had his helmet with him.
“It will be a week-to-week evaluation, or really day-to-day within each and every week,” coach Marc Trestman said. “We’ll see where he is next week when we come back to practice.”
Stephen Paea didn’t have to look at the film and he wasn’t about to take 24 hours to enjoy this one. He already was looking forward to Dallas.
‘‘We’re not going to sit here and be comfortable. We’re going to get after [Tony] Romo next week,’’ the Bears’ second-year defensive tackle said in the Bears locker room Sunday. ‘‘I feel like coach [Rod] Marinelli is going to do a great job of preparing us to get after Romo.’’
When you’re as hot as the Bears’ defensive line is, the next game can’t come quickly enough. The Bears sacked Sam Bradford six times and forced several incompletions and other mistakes with constant pressure in a 23-6 victory over the St. Louis Rams at Soldier Field.
The Bears have 14 sacks in their first three games — an impressive statistic that is not skewed by one big game or one phenomenal player or a blitz-based, element-of-surprise scheme. Eight defenders, including all seven active defensive linemen, have at least a share of a sack so far — equaling the number of players who had at least one sack all of last season.
After sacking the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers five times in their last game, the Bears were even better against Bradford. Israel Idonije (21/2), Amobi Okoye, Paea, linebacker Nick Roach and Julius Peppers (half-sack) had sacks against the Rams. The three times the Bears had five sacks in a game last year, they had one in the following game.
‘‘We have a little bit more depth [this season],’’ said Peppers, who shared a sack with Israel Idonije in the third quarter that atoned for a personal foul penalty that kept alive a Rams drive. ‘‘Guys got better since last year. We have a good rotation that keeps us fresh. And the end result is seen in the stats.’’
Bradford, who had passer ratings of 105.1 against the Lions and 117.6 against the Redskins in his first two games, was 18-for-35 for 152 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions for a 39.2 rating against the Bears. The Rams, who averaged 351 net yards in their first two games, had 160 against the Bears.
‘‘The best part about it is we’re fighting for the sacks,’’ Paea said. ‘‘There’s not just one person on the quarterback, but two or three. We have to play as a team.’’
Cornerback Tim Jennings made one of the biggest plays of the game on his own — defending a bang-bang fourth-and-one pass on a slant route to Brandon Gibson. But almost every other key play, including the Jennings deflection that led to Major Wright’s clinching interception and touchdown return, was a result of pressure from the defensive front.
‘‘This is our defense,’’ safety Chris Conte said. ‘‘We’re playing the same as we’ve always played. We have a lot of good chemistry going on right now — the guys believe in each other. On the back end we believe in the pass rush.
‘‘I think they believe in us to give them time to get after the quarterback. We’re just working well together. We do what we do. And we’re always going to do what we do. As long as we execute we’re going to do well.’’
Courtesy: MARK POTASH | Chicago Sun-Times
EDITORS COMMENT: Stephen Paea is a defensive tackle for the Chicago Bears. He was taken with the 53rd overall pick in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Paea attended Oregon State University, where he played from 2008 to 2010. Making an immediate impact for the Beavers, Paea played in all 13 games, starting 12 of them, and recorded 41 tackles, 11 for a loss, and five quarterback sacks. In February 2010, a YouTube video showed him bench-pressing 225 pounds 44 times. At the NFL Combine, recorded 49 repetitions in the 225-pound bench press, the highest since Justin Ernest’s 51 reps in 1999. In a Sunday Night Football game on October 16 against the Minnesota Vikings, as well as his NFL debut, Paea sacked Donovan McNabb in the end zone for a safety, being the first Bears player to record a safety in his debut since at least 1970. During the preseason, Paea injured his left ankle during a workout, but started in the season opener against the Indianapolis Colts.
BANGOR, Mich. — Peter Gent, a writer whose book about the seamier side of football was made into a popular movie, “North Dallas Forty,” has died in his native Michigan.
D.L. Miller Funeral Home says Gent died Friday at age 69 in Bangor, where he grew up. No other details were immediately available.
Gent was a star basketball player at Michigan State University in the 1960s. He didn’t play college football but got an NFL tryout with the Dallas Cowboys in 1964 and played five seasons.
“North Dallas Forty” was his 1973 novel about pro football, a work that was turned into a movie six years later, starring Nick Nolte and Mac Davis.
RELATED: Former NFL player and author Peter Gent dies – His book, ‘North Dallas Forty,’ was made into a movie.
BANGOR, Mich. — Former NFL player Peter Gent, whose book about the seamier side of football was made into the movie, “North Dallas Forty,” has died in his native Michigan. He was 69.
Gent had been ailing for months and died Friday from a pulmonary illness at his boyhood home in Bangor in western Michigan, where he had lived since 1990, his son Carter Gent said Saturday.
Gent was a star basketball player at Michigan State University in the 1960s. He didn’t play college football but got an NFL tryout with the Dallas Cowboys in 1964 and played five seasons with the team.
His 1973 novel “North Dallas Forty” dealt with drugs, sex, greed and self-preservation in pro football. It was made into a movie six years later, starring Nick Nolte as an aging player and Mac Davis as a quarterback. Gent wrote a sequel, “North Dallas After Forty,” as well as other books, including a memoir about coaching his son’s baseball team, “The Last Magic Summer: A Season With My Son.”
Gent was drafted by the NBA’s Baltimore Bullets after averaging 21 points a game in his final season at Michigan State. Instead, he headed to Dallas to try his hand at football.
“He had heard you’d get $500 just for showing up,” said Carter Gent, 35, of Kalamazoo. “The wide receivers coach liked him. He was long and lean and had good hands.”
Carter Gent said his father seemed pleased with how the movie “North Dallas Forty” turned out but he usually didn’t watch it years later.
“He was just a brilliant guy who had a lot of other interests. He read a lot and loved history,” Carter Gent said. “Watching sports didn’t do much for him.” Gent, who was divorced, also is survived by a daughter, Holly Gent Palmo of Austin, Texas; a brother, Jamie Gent; and four grandchildren.
Courtesy: The Chicago Tribune; Los Angeles Times, AP