Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler indicated Tuesday that his return for Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions isn't a certainty, as he continues to go through the rehabilitation process for a torn groin muscle.
Injured on Oct. 20 against the Washington Redskins, Cutler said he had hoped to be back for Monday night's game against the Green Bay Packers. Although he's utilized unconventional methods to speed up the recovery -- including platelet-rich plasma treatments, an ARP machine and a strict diet -- he said he doesn't have a say on how soon he returns.
Team doctors told Cutler, coach Marc Trestman and general manager Phil Emery that the timetable for recovery is a minimum of four weeks.
"I was aiming for the Green Bay game, and that didn't happen. So I don't think we can say I'll be out there for the Detroit game," Cutler said Tuesday on ESPN 1000's "The Jay Cutler Show."
"We're trying everything we can to get out there. It feels good, but I haven't practiced. I haven't been in a live situation and done all the cuts and the drops and saw how it felt yet. So I can't tell you. I wish I could. I wish I could say, 'Yeah, we'll be out there.'
"But I think the way that [backup] Josh [McCown] is playing, we feel good about that and we don't want to get into the situation where I'm out there and I get back a week too soon and I'm set back another four to six weeks. So I'm just gonna be smart with it."
When the Bears (5-3) host the Lions (5-3) on Sunday, 21 days will have passed since Cutler suffered the injury.
Cutler said the healing process has moved along quickly because "I've just done a lot of rehab," and that the original four-week minimum prognosis involved the recovery time frame for someone that "kind of let it heal itself and [took] it easy," as opposed to the aggressive approach he's taken.
"We've done some stuff that isn't just straight ice and [muscle] stim[ulation]. There's an ARP machine there. We did PRP. We've done a lot of different things," Cutler said. "The trainers, the Bears have done a great job, Bobby [Slater, the assistant head athletic trainer and director of rehabilitation] and those guys, of helping me get back.
"We've kind of attacked this thing head on, thrown a lot of different methods at it, and just tried to keep the blood flowing there."
An ARP machine (Accelerated Recovery Performance) is a unit that helps heal soft-tissue injuries by sending a direct current to an injured area, along with a background current that the machine's creators believe allows for deeper penetration. PRP treatments involve the injection of a patient's own platelets into the injured area. The platelets are reported to have growth factors that help in healing.
Bears running back Matt Forte also has utilized an ARP machine and PRP treatments to speed up the healing process.
In addition, Cutler has restricted his diet in his bid to return to the field.
"Just keeping your sugar levels, try to keep them as level as possible," Cutler said. "It's hard on your body trying to heal an injury and also break down numerous amounts of carbs that we eat and all kinds of other stuff."
Asked if he would consider himself 75 percent healthy, Cutler said, "I don't know."
"We haven't done football-specific stuff to really tell me where I'm at. I haven't pushed that button and said, 'Hey, let's go do a bunch of drops. Let's roll out. Let's throw and see where we're at,' " Cutler said. "I can do some lunges and stuff for you. But that's not gonna tell me [I] can get out of the way of a defensive lineman.
"We have a walkthrough tomorrow. We're practicing Thursday. Hopefully we'll see if we can do some stuff out there. If not, we're in more than capable hands [with McCown]. I think Chicago would agree."
But no matter Cutler's opinion, the decision won't be in his hands.
"I'm not gonna just walk in the building and be like, 'Hey, I'm ready to go,' " Cutler said. "Doctors have got to OK it. I've got to prove to them that I can protect myself out there, [that I] can do everything that we need to do at the quarterback position. We've still got some hurdles to go through."
Cutler acknowledged that the waiting is difficult, but he believes in McCown's ability to get the job done during his absence.
In a little more than six quarters in the past two games, McCown has completed 36 of 61 passes for 476 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions while generating passer ratings of 119.6 and 90.7.
"I want to be out there. I wanted to be out there Monday night. It's just hard seeing how much time and effort the rest of the guys in the offense and the rest of the guys on the team put in and not being able to help and do my part. That's the hardest part," Cutler said. "But that's why we have Josh. That's why Josh takes his job so seriously, for situations like that. I've just got to trust in the fact that he's gonna go out there, he's gonna do everything he can do to help us win games."