- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice joked Monday about losing sleep over the offensive line’s potential inability to adequately protect quarterback Jay Cutler.
A new father, Cutler cracked a joke of his own, while expressing confidence in the offensive line.
“We’ve got a couple of reasons to lose sleep,” Cutler quipped. “(We’ve got) the baby, we’ve got all kinds of stuff going on. They’re gonna be fine I think. Protection wise, we’re gonna do what we have to do to protect myself or whoever is in there. So if we’ve got to keep eight in there, if we’ve got to keep nine in there, that’s what we’re gonna do.”
Cutler sat out of the club’s preseason opener against the Denver Broncos, a contest that came a day after fiancée Kristin Cavallari gave birth to the couple’s first child. The birth of Cutler’s son, Camden Jack Cutler, came last Wednesday on the team’s day off. The following day, the team decided against playing Cutler -- who had spent several sleepless hours at the hospital with Cavallari -- in the exhibition opener, despite the quarterback participating in pre-game warm-ups.
Cutler said he “wanted to be out there with those guys and at least get a couple of snaps in, but they thought it was best if I didn’t, and that’s fine, too.”
“It's been fun. Obviously the birth of a child is always life changing and exciting, so me and Kristin really enjoyed that,” Cutler said. “(This week) it's a preseason game, and a quick turnaround. So I'll be ready.”
In the 31-3 loss to the Broncos, the Bears averaged 1.7 yards per attempt on 21 runs against the Broncos, with backup running back Kahlil Bell producing the longest gain, a 7-yard run in the first half. Of the club’s eight first downs, the Bears gained only one of them by running the ball.
The offensive line, meanwhile, allowed a combined six sacks on the three quarterbacks.
“Going into preseason games, you get one day, maybe two days, to figure out what you want to do protection wise. So those guys are a little bit handicapped,” Cutler explained. “But we’re gonna keep things basic (throughout the preseason). I think we’re gonna keep things basic this next game. So it’s a 3-4 (front). We haven’t seen a 3-4 in camp. That’s gonna be a little bit of a change for us. We’ll see how we handle it.”
One way the Bears plan to manage potential problems with protection is by deploying the necessary personnel to handle the matchups they’ll face. That’s part of the reason Cutler remains confident in the offensive line’s ability to bounce back from a rough first outing.
“We’re not gonna put those guys in positions where they’re gonna fail or I’m gonna get hit,” he said. “We would like them to step up and be able to block four on four, five on five, and see what happens. We’ll see how it goes.”