CHICAGO -- Bears quarterback Jay Cutler suffered a torn muscle in his groin during Sunday's loss to the Washington Redskins, an MRI confirmed on Monday, and the team announced he'll be out of action for at least the next four weeks.
The injury elevates veteran Josh McCown into the starting role, and the club has signed Jordan Palmer to serve as the backup. Palmer was on the way to Chicago as of Monday afternoon, according to general manager Phil Emery, and will officially sign once he passes a physical.
Bears coach Marc Trestman, meanwhile, expressed optimism about McCown's ability to step in as the starter as well as the relatively short recovery period for Cutler, who could return by the club's Nov. 24 matchup against the St. Louis Rams, if not sooner.
"I'm only confident by what [the doctors] told me," Trestman said. "This is a minimum of four weeks, and then he'll be evaluated week to week. But based on the history -- I talked to the doctors this morning -- four weeks is a reasonable start, and then it would be week to week.
"Jay's injury has been highly documented. I read a paper that the doctor gave me that says this is the kind of injury he has, and there's a lot of different ways to go about doing it, but the best is just rest and recovery."
Cutler won't undergo surgery, and Trestman said the quarterback is "disappointed he was injured," but "in a good frame of mind today" after receiving the diagnosis.
Cutler tore the groin muscle with 10:09 remaining in the first half of the team's 45-41 loss to the Redskins while being slammed to the ground on a sack by Chris Baker.
Cutler appeared to suffer the injury as Baker swung him to the ground, causing the quarterback's lower body to slam down on top of the defensive end's knee. Cutler eventually limped off the field under his own power, and the team's medical staff immediately walked him into the locker room.
McCown filled in and completed 14 of 20 passes for 204 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown pass to Martellus Bennett in the fourth quarter. McCown finished the game with a passer rating of 119.6, and admitted on Monday that "I don't know if you're ever ready to handle losing your starting quarterback."
Despite the potential setback to the offense, McCown thinks the structure put in place by Trestman will help him to succeed in Cutler's absence.
"The emphasis has been put on individuals to do their job and do their part. If we continue to get that, and we felt like we got that yesterday, it allows the quarterback to step in there, whether it's Jay or myself, to function and play, because guys are going to be coached to be where they are supposed to be and do what they're supposed to do," McCown said.
"It's going to look different between Jay and I. Our skill sets are different. Every guy in America wishes he could throw the ball like Jay Cutler. He has big-play capabilities because of his arm and the things that he does and just as a leader, too. So the bar was set high by Jay."
Before the injury, Cutler was 3-of-8 passing for 28 yards and had an interception returned 29 yards for a touchdown by Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo.
Cutler hasn't missed time since Nov. 11 of last season, when he sustained a concussion against the Houston Texans that forced him out the next week against the San Francisco 49ers. In 2011, Cutler missed the club's final six games because of a broken thumb, and the Bears lost five of those games.
"You always want your guy out there. You know how competitive of a person he is," left tackle Jermon Bushrod said. "You just feel sorry that he has to deal with it. But at the end of the day, Josh has been in the league for a long time. He's played a lot of games. He has a lot of experience. So we're excited about the opportunity."