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Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Jay Cutler, Matt Forte to IR

ESPNChicago.com

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears placed quarterback Jay Cutler and running back Matt Forte on injured reserve on Tuesday, meaning they will miss the season finale at Minnesota this week.

The moves were hardly surprising given Chicago's recent struggles.

The Bears (7-8) have lost five straight since Cutler broke his right thumb late in a win over San Diego on Nov. 20, and things took another bad turn two weeks later when Forte sprained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee against Kansas City.

Cutler, who was scheduled to have surgically inserted pins removed Tuesday, threw for 2,319 yards with 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Forte finished with 997 yards rushing and 490 receiving and was selected to his first Pro Bowl hours after being placed on IR. He's the first Chicago running back to make it since Neal Anderson following the 1991 season.

Bears coach Lovie Smith said Monday that he wouldn't discourage either from playing in the season finale against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

"If they're healthy and ready to go, we won't tell them no," Smith said. "But there are some other guys we feel comfortable playing. They're making progress, but if we had other things on the line (such as a postseason berth) we would take the same approach. We would never stop a player that wanted to play who was healthy and really ready to go. But I don't know if that'll be the case."

With Cutler and Forte on IR, the Bears elevated defensive tackle Jordan Miller from the practice squad and signed guard Mansfield Wrotto.

Chicago also announced on its website that rookie offensive lineman Gabe Carimi had surgery Tuesday on his right knee to repair connective tissue around his patella and medial collateral ligament.

The first-round pick started the first two games before injuring his knee and briefly returned to practice before having an arthroscopic procedure on the knee in November.

He is expected to be ready before the start of training camp.

Cutler's injury sent Chicago into a tailspin, knocking out of contention a team that appeared on its way to the playoffs after last year's run to the NFC title game.

The Bears were eliminated with a loss at Green Bay on Sunday, but they were just about out of it by the time they arrived at Lambeau Field.

One reason was the lack of a reliable backup quarterback.

Chicago put in a waiver claim on Kyle Orton after Cutler went down, but Kansas City had priority and got him. The Bears wound up signing Josh McCown, who was coaching quarterbacks at a North Carolina high school, and passed on going after Donovan McNabb after Minnesota let him go.

Meanwhile, backup Caleb Hanie struggled and went 0-4 as the starter. McCown got the nod against the Packers and performed better, throwing for 242 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions in his first NFL appearance since 2009, but the Bears saw their playoff hopes vanish in a 35-21 loss.

A healthy Forte might have made a difference, but his season ended when he took a hit to the knee against Kansas City. It didn't help that backup Marion Barber committed costly mistakes in losses to the Chiefs and Denver the following week.

He had a touchdown catch in a 10-3 loss to Kansas City called off because he lined up illegally, forcing Chicago to settle for a field goal, and things only got worse for him the following week.

Barber got pushed out of bounds on a run near the end of regulation, helping give Denver enough time to tie the game. In overtime, his fumble led to the winning field goal.

Forte told ESPNChicago.com on Dec. 17 he'd consider returning at less than 100 percent if the team made the postseason.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.