As debate continued to rage over whether Bears quarterback Jay Cutler could have played on with a MCL tear in Sunday’s NFC title game loss to the Packers, it emerged Monday that the Saints’ Drew Brees played with a similar injury for six weeks this season.
While discussing whether Cutler could have stayed in the game, New Orleans fullback Heath Evans told ESPN’s "First Take" program that Saints quarterback Brees was able to play through the injury for weeks.
“Sorry, Drew, I love you, but Drew Brees played six weeks with a torn MCL," Evans said. “I know what Drew Brees did with a torn MCL."
Saints right tackle Jon Stinchcomb told NewOrleans.com that he was aware Brees was playing through an injury in his left knee, but he did not know the full extent of it.
"It wasn’t a mystery that his knee was bothering him and he was wearing a brace for a few weeks,” Stinchcomb said.
"Drew was able to play through it. He’s a tough guy. In no way am I saying that he’s tough and Jay Cutler is not. I don’t want to make that comparison. I’ve never played with Jay nor am I condemning the fact that he left the game [Sunday].
"But we were aware about Drew’s knee. But it’s not our position to speak on another player’s injury.”
The Chicago Sun-Times reported Monday that Cutler had suffered a Grade II MCL tear in his left knee, which would need three to four weeks to heal.
Cutler picked up the injury during the first half against the Packers and was pulled from the game after the Bears’ first drive in the third quarter.
Twitter lit up with former NFL players questioning Cutler’s toughness, but Smith defended his quarterback.
The Bears coach said it was his and the medical staff’s decision to not allow Cutler back into the game.
Cutler was replaced by Todd Collins, who then yielded to third-string quarterback Caleb Hanie. Hanie led the Bears to two second-half touchdowns, but also had an interception returned for a touchdown in the 21-14 loss.