- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler reiterated his goal to return for the club’s Dec. 9 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys on "Monday Night Football," but indicated he hasn’t yet received clearance from the team’s medical staff after suffering a severe high ankle sprain on Nov. 10.
Just last week, Cutler said “the goal” was to return by Dec. 9. But Bears coach Marc Trestman maintained that Cutler is still “week to week,” adding that “we’ll just see where he is.”
“Getting better,” Cutler said Monday during “The Jay Cutler Show” on ESPN 1000. “Still got to talk to the doctors, gotta go through some stuff this week. I don’t know. I think if we’re gonna have any shot at playing, I’m gonna have to practice [this week]. I still feel like I’m gonna get back here really soon. I want to play. It’s just the trainers and doctors and going through the scenario we’ve got to go through.”
Cutler missed three consecutive games due to a severe high ankle sprain sustained in the second quarter of a Nov. 10 loss to the Detroit Lions. Veteran Josh McCown filled in for the last three games and produced a 2-1 record, throwing for 1,038 yards and five touchdowns with only one interception.
In those three starts, McCown produced a passer rating of 103.8. On the season, McCown is 3-2 as a starter with an overall passer rating of 103.6, which currently ranks as the second best in Bears single-season history.
McCown passed for 355 yards and two touchdowns against the Vikings.
Cutler said he ran on a treadmill Monday, and “felt good about that,” adding that he hopes “there’s no ill effects tomorrow.”
With the team’s postseason prospects on shaky ground, Cutler said that even if the Bears fall out of contention for a playoff berth in the coming weeks, he’d still like to return to the lineup.
“I want to play as soon as I can play. I’ve been out long enough,” Cutler said. “Just want to be able to help the guys be able to win football games, no matter what the situation is.”
Similar to his recovery from a torn muscle in his groin back in November, Cutler underwent a vigorous regimen to return to full health from the latest setback.
The rehabilitation process included Cutler spending copious amounts of time improving mobility in the injured ankle, in addition to doing exercises to strengthen the area. Cutler also used an ARP machine to speed up the recovery process.
Cutler has missed portions of two games already this season, in addition to the three other contests. The quarterback has completed 63 percent of his passes for 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions for a passer rating of 88.4.
“I’m not sure where we are right now [with Cutler’s progress],” Trestman said. “He visited the doctor today, and we’ll know more Thursday or Friday. But [his return to the field will] start with some limited work, see how he moves around and we’ll take it from there. It’s still week to week. I’ll know a little bit more in the next 24 hours. I really can’t answer that question right now. I’m not trying to hide anything from you. That’s where we’re at.”
Cutler missed half of the club’s Oct. 20 loss to Washington due to a groin strain, and all of the team’s Nov. 4 upset win over the Green Bay Packers. Cutler returned from the groin injury in a Nov. 10 to the Lions and sprained the ankle.
With his contract set to expire after the season, Cutler admitted last week that his injury history could affect the team’s evaluation of him. Cutler missed time last season due to a concussion and six games in 2011 because of a broken thumb.
Cutler also missed a game in 2010 due to a concussion.
23hDana Wakiji / Special to ESPN.com