- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 29, 2013

LAKE FOREST, ILL. (AP) - The Chicago Bears aren’t ruling out an early return for quarterback Jay Cutler from a torn groin muscle that was expected to sideline him for at least four weeks..

Cutler hopes to be back sooner than that.

“That’s the goal,” he said.

Cutler addressed the media Tuesday for the first time since he was injured in a loss at Washington on Oct. 20. The Bears said he would miss at least a month and be evaluated week to week after that.

Coach Marc Trestman said that timeline was based on what doctors said is the norm for a player with Cutler’s injury. It doesn’t mean he can’t come back sooner. He also said the doctors will decide when Cutler is ready.

“It could happen faster,” Trestman said. “Jay’s optimistic; we all are. But I’m not saying we’re not bringing Jay back for four weeks. That’s what the doctors have said and we’ll work off that timeline. If it happens quicker, that would be great.”

Trestman did not declare Cutler out for Monday’s game at Green Bay but said it’s “highly unlikely” he would play.

“You never want to say never,” he said. “I would say it’s highly unlikely that Jay will be playing on Monday night, but I would not want to make it 100 percent at this point in time.”

Assuming Cutler sits out as expected, Josh McCown will start.

The Bears host Detroit the following week, and while receiver Brandon Marshall told Chicago’s WMVP-AM 1000 on Monday the quarterback would be ready for that game, Cutler grinned when asked about that.

“He’s optimistic. And so am I,” Cutler said. “So we’ll see how it goes.”

Cutler got knocked out of the Redskins game early in the second quarter on a sack by Chris Baker. He stayed down for several minutes and limped off the field.

Besides Cutler, Chicago also lost Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs to a small fracture in his left shoulder in that game. He was expected to miss about six weeks, leaving the struggling Bears (4-3) without their most important players on offense and defense.

They’ve dropped three of four, and after an off week, the schedule isn’t exactly taking an easy turn.

Stopping Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, not to mention Ndamukong Suh and the Lions, would have been tough enough at full strength. Now, the Bears are trying to keep pace in the NFC North with key pieces missing.

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