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CHICAGO -- Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman reiterated after Monday night's 45-28 victory against the Dallas Cowboys that Jay Cutler will return to the starting lineup once the quarterback receives medical clearance from the team's doctors.
Cutler has missed the past four games with a severe high ankle sprain he suffered versus the Detroit Lions on Nov. 10. Veteran backup Josh McCown completed 27 of 36 passes for 348 yards and four touchdowns (he also ran for a score) on Monday, and in seven appearances this season he's thrown for 1,809 yards, 13 touchdowns, one interception, and has posted a quarterback rating of 109.8. His Total QBR is a league-leading 85.7.
"There's no change in the plan," Trestman said. "We'll see where Jay is this week. He'll have to be released by the doctors. When Jay is ready to play, he'll be playing."
Cutler practiced two days last week on a limited basis. The Bears, who are tied with Detroit atop the NFC North at 7-6, play Sunday at the Cleveland Browns.
"When [Cutler] is good to go and can have a full week of practice, he'll be our quarterback," Trestman said.
In the final year of his contract, Cutler, 30, has missed five games because of a groin tear and the high ankle sprain. He's completed 63 percent of his passes for 1,908 yards, 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Chicago has lost possession on three of Cutler's four fumbles. McCown has fumbled twice, with the Bears losing one.
"The team knows who the starting quarterback is, and like I said before, I know my job as the backup," McCown said. "I want to play efficient football, winning football and keep us in contention while the starter is not healthy.
"As long as Jay is healthy and ready to go, I don't think there's any question. I just want to do my part, so we'll see what happens moving forward."
Meanwhile, teammates raved about the 11-year veteran's performance Monday night.
"He's amazing," wide receiver Brandon Marshall said. "We really appreciate his leadership and what he's been doing for us. This guy is a special person on and off the field."
Left tackle Jermon Bushrod added: "He's just getting better every single week when he gets an opportunity. We love to see him have success like that, and we are going to do whatever it takes for him to continue to throw the ball around and continue to fight to be as balanced as possible."
McCown, 34, became the first Bears quarterback to have three straight 300-yard games.
He is also scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason.
"I thought [McCown] played an excellent game," Trestman said. "We moved the ball. He completed passes. Josh ran around and made some plays."