Was Cutler 'protection' adequate?

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Was Cutler 'protection' adequate?

The topic of the day and what will be until it just isnt 'The Topic' was the state of quarterback Jay Cutler following his concussion. It is a genuine NFL-wide topic for various reasons, as Mike Florio and I discussed in some detail on ProFootballTalk.coms PFT Live on Monday.

Mike raised the question of whether proper procedures and safeguards were observed by Cutler not being removed from the game right after the blow to the head by Houston Texans linebacker Tim Dobbins. Cutler stayed down for a few moments as officials and medical staff checked him out and he was allowed to stay in the game.

But should he have?

My thought was that this is an extremely difficult area for officials, who are in the spot of ring referees in a prize fight. A fighter takes a standing eight-count, the referee checks briefly to see if they can defend themselves and the fight continues if the boxer can maintain his hands up.

Mike rightly noted that the officials are in a tough spot of possibly ordering a key player off the field, with the obvious potential impact on the game. Obviously the league is concerned about the protection of players from concussion effects and Lovie Smith and the Bears are insistent that they will not have a player on the field who is significantly injured.

My early guess is that Cutler will not play against the San Francisco 49ers, who also may be without their starting quarterback after Alex Smith suffered a concussion in the 49ers tie with the St. Louis Rams.

If not Cutler

The natural follow-up issue was where the Bears are with Jason Campbell taking over. Mike and everyone else remembers the death spiral after Caleb Hanie took over after Cutlers thumb injury at about this point last season. The Bears certainly do, which is why signing a Campbell was an offseason priority of incoming GM Phil Emery last offseason.

Mike observed that Campbell was not overly effective coming in for the second half on Sunday. A fair share of that owes to the quality of the Houston defense, and I noted that players told me in the locker room afterwards that the Texans were taking away anything deep in a one-score game.

Campbell did have a 45-yard completion to Brandon Marshall but that was about all other than some very unproductive dump-offs to tight ends and Matt Forte.

Looking post-season

The Houston game was the first of six straight against teams currently with winning records (Houston, San Francisco, Minnesota, Seattle, Minnesota, Green Bay). Mikes thought was how the Bears could fall from a No. 1 or 2 seed to having to fight to get in as the fifth or sixth seed via wild card.

That could be the case even with Cutler returning sooner rather than later. The Packers have won four straight to reach 6-3, and Seattle and Minnesota represent important games in potential head-to-head tiebreakers.

Mike mentioned the job that Adrian Peterson did on the Detroit Lions yesterday. Ill address this in more detail as the Vikings approach but one person the Bears have done well to control is Peterson in recent years, after he simply annihilated them early in his career. Peterson had 39 yards in the first Bears game last year, missing the second with the knee injury he is clearly well beyond.

Today on CSN: White Sox face Athletics in spring training game

Today on CSN: White Sox face Athletics in spring training game

The White Sox will battle the Oakland Athletics today, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage begins at 3:05 p.m.

Today's starting pitching matchup: Carlos Rodon vs. Kendall Graveman

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Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Stars: Another slow start but better finish

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Stars: Another slow start but better finish

It wasn't pretty, but the Blackhawks found a way to pick up another two points and improved to 6-0-1 over their last seven games, and 18-3-1 over their last 22.

With Minnesota's loss to Philadelphia, the Blackhawks have taken an eight-point lead for first in the Central Division and are only two points away from the Washington Capitals for home-ice advantage throughout the entire Stanley Cup playoffs.

Let's take a look at Quick Hits from the 3-2 shootout victory over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night:

What Worked: The finish and shootout. While the Blackhawks scored the game's first goal, it was another slow start by a team that has had a few of those over the last several outings and has preached working on turning in more of a complete effort. They recorded only 14 shots on goal in the first two periods, and it took more than six minutes after Patrick Kane's goal to record their next one.

But they finished on a positive note yet again, and went 2-for-3 in the shootout thanks to Kane and Artemi Panarin, who potted the game winner. Kane said after the game that he tried his move on Scott Darling during morning skate and it worked. So he went with it tonight in an effort to snap a mini shootout drought and he did.

What Didn't Work: Controlling the puck. The Blackhawks seemingly have the puck more than their opponent does almost every game, but it doesn't reflect in the shot department because they often look for the perfect pass or shot and fail to record one at all. They had 50 shot attempts with 26 of them on goal compared to the Stars' 64 attempts with 44 on goal. They know they must get better at that.

Star of the game: Corey Crawford. After allowing four goals on only 10 shots in Tuesday's overtime loss to Vancouver, the Blackhawks netminder bounced back in a huge way. He matched a season-high with 42 saves, and recorded his 30th win of the season.

He Said It: "He played amazing tonight. Reason we won the game. Hats off to him, he's done that a lot this year. For a goalie it's probably tough to show up every night, even the goals he let in last game you can't put all the blame on him, but he was outstanding tonight." — Kane on Crawford's performance

By the Numbers:

167 — Niklas Hjalmarsson blocked one shot in the win, and it was enough to set a new career high in that department, previously established during the 2010-11 campaign (166).

15 — Trevor van Riemsyk assisted on Marian Hossa's goal in the third period, giving him a career-high 15 points on the season in 50 games. He had 14 points in 82 games last year. He also extended his point streak to three games.

6 — With the victory, Crawford has earned at least 30 wins in six of his seven NHL seasons as a full-time starter. The only time he didn't reach that mark was during the lockout-shortened year in 2012-13 when he went 19-5-5.