NFL Nation: The Jay Cutler Show

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler praised receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery for their contributions this season, saying the former needs to make his first playoff appearance in eight seasons as a pro, while the latter deserves to make the Pro Bowl.

A four-time Pro Bowler, Marshall has caught 94 passes for 1,221 yards and 11 touchdowns, while Jeffery is responsible for 1,341 yards and seven TDs on 86 receptions. Marshall and Jeffery form the league's top receiving duo in the NFL with 2,563 yards, with the combined receiving yards ranking as the most in franchise history by a duo.

On multiple occasions, Marshall has discussed making the Pro Bowl and receiving lucrative contracts, but he claims the goal now is to finally play in a postseason contest for the first time in his career and eventually compete in the Super Bowl.

“I feel bad for him,” Cutler said Monday during the “Jay Cutler Show” on ESPN 1000. “An amazing player on his third team and has played at a high, high level. I saw a stat at some point. He's the first player to have two 1,000-yard seasons for three different teams. We've talked about it. We've mentioned it to some of the coaches and some of the guys. Everyone is just shocked eight years have went by and he still hasn't made the playoffs. So he deserves it. Like I said, we're gonna do everything possible Sunday and I know he will, too.”

As for Jeffery, the quarterback is hoping the second-year pro is recognized for his breakout 2013 campaign. A second-round pick, Jeffery played in just 10 games as a rookie due to hand and knee injuries that forced him out of six contests.

After spending the offseason working out with Marshall, Jeffery returned in 2013 to make a significant impact on the offense.

“I think he deserves it,” Cutler said, when asked if it's important the receiver is recognized for his accomplishments. Given the rule changes for the Pro Bowl, it was mentioned to Cutler that eight receivers would be taken overall, regardless of conference. “I think he's a top-eight receiver in the league, and I think he'll get recognized," the quarterback said.

Cutler also believes Jeffery's work habits will help him enjoy a long career. When Cutler first watched Jeffery as a rookie, his talents and abilities were “off the charts,” the quarterback said.

“You watched him make some plays, and you're like, ‘Man, if this happens consistently, he's gonna be hard to stop,'” Cutler said. “He's just too good. He makes too many big plays. He's too consistent at practices. It's every day with this guy. He's doing things on the sideline when we're not going. He's a consummate pro at Year 2, which is hard to find. Most guys, it takes three or four years to figure out what they need to do on and off the field. But Alshon's got it nailed. He's very even-keeled. He's gonna be around for a long time.”

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is no longer wearing a hard cast on his lower left leg to stabilize the high ankle sprain he suffered versus the Detroit Lions on Nov. 10.

Cutler arrived at Wednesday's practice inside the Walter Payton Center with a standard football cleat on his left foot, and not the hard cast and walking boot he was required to wear last week to move around the facility.

“He had a very small brace on,” Bears head coach Marc Trestman said. “He’s the got the sprain, but there is stability there (in the ankle). There is enough stability where they could take the (hard cast) off. Again, it’s day-to-day and I’m optimistic that it will stay that way, but we’ll have to see.”

Trestman refused to speculate whether Cutler would be medically cleared to start versus the Minnesota Vikings on December 1. Veteran Josh McCown will make his third start of the season at quarterback for the Bears when the club travels to face the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.

“I’m just going to stay on a week-to-week (timetable) right now,” Trestman said. “I’m really not the doctor. They tell me it’s week-to-week. I try not to put myself in a position where I get overly optimistic about these things. I just take them as they come. I look at it being week-to-week right now and we’ll see where he is on Monday.”

Cutler revealed Monday on ESPN 1000’s “The Jay Cutler Show” that he originally targeted a Dec. 1 return date immediately after he suffered the high-ankle sprain, but that was before team doctors detected potentially more serious damage that could keep the quarterback off-the-field longer than expected.

"We're taking the cast off periodically, just kind of checking to see where I'm at,” Cutler said. “We'll see again later this week, then early next week where it's at.

"There are a couple of ligaments that we're a little worried about that's different than the normal high ankle sprain," he said. "There are a few other things involved. If I just had a normal high ankle sprain, I wouldn't be in a cast. [A cast] helps it scar up and stuff, but the normal high ankle sprain isn't really a concern at this point."
CHICAGO -- A fresh start and a renewed focus, combined with lessons learned, have created a perfect storm that has allowed new Chicago Bears tight end Martellus Bennett to thrive in the early going.

Bennett, who signed a four-year deal with the Bears this past offseason, already has 10 catches for 125 yards and three touchdowns in two games, including the game-winning score in Sunday’s 31-30 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

[+] EnlargeMartellus Bennett
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastBears tight end Martellus Bennett has 10 catches for 125 yards and three touchdowns this season.
After playing four seasons in Dallas and last season with the New York Giants, the Texas A&M product said Monday that only now does he have all the tools needed to have true, sustained success at the NFL level.

“Being behind [tight end Jason] Witten [in Dallas], I learned a whole lot of stuff I didn’t even realize I was learning because I watched and took notes on every single thing he was doing but really didn’t have a chance to use it,” said Bennett, who was a guest Monday on ESPN 1000’s “The Jay Cutler Show.”

“Going to New York, I had a chance to take three-year deals in different places, but I decided to bet on myself and take the one-year deal because I felt like I was worth more than they were offering me.”

With the Giants, he hooked up with tight end coach Michael Pope and delivered his best season, with 55 receptions for 626 yards and 5 touchdowns. Calling himself “a sponge” over the past couple of seasons because of all the learning he was doing, he is now unleashing that knowledge.

“I’m really starting to understand what goes in to playing football,” Bennett said. “A lot of times, I used to put the cart before the horse, so to speak. I’m involved in a lot of things, and when things don’t go your way on the field, you can easily put more into those other things you’re interested in.”

He now says he has understanding of how to prioritize outside interests to go along with football, while also learning the benefits of eating right.

“Today’s my day when I can have a Shirley Temple and I can eat chicken tenders and french fries,” Bennett said. “Tuesday is back to healthy. I can have a piece of cake right now, but then it goes back to my regular routine. So I develop a routine with my study habits and listening. I think my listening skills have improved. My wife would probably agree. My listening skills are off the radar right now, so I’ve become a great listener and not a talker.”

Bennett has always been known for his gift of gab, but it’s all about his play on the field now. His friendship with wide receiver Brandon Marshall hasn’t hurt things.

“Yeah, it’s fun,” Cutler said. “They kind of push each other out there. We all can’t be on every single day, so it’s between us two and [Marshall, Matt Forte], Alshon [Jeffery], Earl [Bennett]. All of us are in this thing together. We have to have all those guys going.

“I can’t run around without those guys. I need them at full speed on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. They’re all pushing each other trying to get better and better. It’s a really good group. I think any quarterback in the league would like to have the horses I have on the outside.”