Coach Lovie Smith keeps information pertaining to injuries to players and their availability for an upcoming game famously private. Between not wishing to give rivals competitive information and restricting how much personal medical information is made revealed, nuclear launch codes sometimes have a better chance of becoming public.
However, whether he will be able to keep the San Francisco 49ers from knowing who will be his starting quarterback Jay Cutler or Jason Campbell for next Mondays game remains to be seen.
Cutler and defensive end Shea McClellin left Sundays game with concussions. Neither are expected to play against the 49ers.
Perhaps the best indication that Cutler will not play was the Bears immediate search for a veteran backup on Monday, expected to be former Bears backup Josh McCown, according to multiple sources.
Were looking at all our options at the quarterback position, Smith said. Hes one of them. Of course, he played good football for us in the final two games of 2011. Were familiar with him.
The nature of concussions is such that the NFL has taken an increasingly strong stance against quick return from that injury.
That includes practicing as well, which could force Smith and staff to make a decision sooner rather than later about the starter.
Yes, it does, Smith said. You want to know as soon as possible of course to let that guy start getting the reps.
The No. 1 quarterback takes the vast majority of practice reps. If Campbell is going to play, he needs to get the work throughout a week of preparation for a defense even more difficult to score on that Houstons.
And if Cutler is going to play, he needs to be cleared conclusively early so he can get his necessary preparation with the rest of the offense.
Smith repeated the statement that the Bears have and will always err on the side of keeping injured players out. Concussions have a specific protocol of tests, comparing the results from those tests with a previously established baseline, and determining that a player is symptom-free.
If he is not, he is held out and the process begins again. Cutler had a concussion in an October 2010 game that caused him to miss the game the next weekend.
Smith said that when Cutler began to show symptoms of concussion at halftime Sunday, the Bears removed him from the game.
Every concussion is a little bit different, Smith said. I just know during that game a guy has symptoms, has a concussion, were not going to play him then. Well go through the protocol and once theyve been cleared to come back for practice and play, thats when hell play. Its really as simple as that. Weve already started the process with that.