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Bears coach optimistic Cutler will return from ankle injury Sunday

Image: Jay Cutler (© Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press)
Could this be the week the Bears get Jay Cutler back?
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP)

Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman is optimistic quarterback Jay Cutler will be ready to return from an ankle injury this week against the Cleveland Browns.

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Cutler was to work with the receivers after Wednesday's walkthrough, and Trestman says the Bears will know Thursday if he's ready to start.

''We're not going to let it hang through the week,'' he said. ''The starter tomorrow has got to get the work. So we'll make that decision tomorrow.''

Cutler's missed the past four games with a high left ankle sprain and also sat out one with a groin injury. Veteran Josh McCown has played well in his place, but the Bears have repeatedly said they would go with Cutler once he's ready.

A return against Cleveland looks like a good possibility for Cutler - but not Lance Briggs. The star linebacker has missed the past six games because of a broken shoulder, and the odds that he'll suit up against the Browns appear slim.

''I'm not in any way as optimistic about Lance as I would be about Jay at this time because I've seen Jay move around and do the things that he did last week,'' Trestman said.

Briggs' return would be a huge lift for an injury-ravaged defense that can't stop the run.

He was expected to miss about six weeks after he was injured against Washington on Oct. 20, but the recovery has stretched longer.

The Bears clearly miss him.

Their defense ranks 27th overall and last against the run, and they've allowed 198 yards rushing or more in four of the past six games.

''It's not just the intangibles that he brings in terms of leadership and experience and things like that, in confidence,'' defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said. ''But he can actually make plays. He can win one-on-one, he can get off blocks. He can run sideline to sideline. He can win one-on-one on running backs on blitzes and things like that. He's an excellent blitzer.

''In the pass game he's quick, very instinctive. He's quick to diagnose and because of ... his experience, there's not a whole lot of plays he hasn't seen at some point in time.''

Tagged: Bears, Lance Briggs, Jay Cutler

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