Jay Cutler hedges on return

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, who has missed the past three games while recovering from thumb surgery, said Wednesday there is an "outside chance" he'll return on Christmas Day to face the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, but he warned Bears fans not to get their hopes up.

Cutler was asked a hypothetical question Wednesday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000 about the possibility of returning to face the Packers if the Bears beat the Seahawks on Sunday in Seattle. The Bears have lost all three games that Cutler has missed, but their wild-card hopes could remain alive with a win in Seattle.

"I'll say 'outside,' " Cutler said. "I wouldn't say it's good or definite or a real possibility, but there's always a chance, but like you said, we have to get this one first."

When pressed later on it, Cutler refused to put a percentage on the likelihood of returning.

"Outside shot, let's not get anyone's hopes up, let's not ruin anybody's Christmas dreams, but outside, outside," he said.

Bears management has been consistent in its optimism that Cutler could return before the end of the regular season.

But a loss Sunday likely extinguishes the Bears' playoff hopes, which could make it unlikely Cutler would rush back and risk further injury.

"That's not up to me," he said. "That's up to management. We'll see what happens there."

It was reported that Cutler threw the ball Sunday for the first time since his Nov. 23 surgery. Cutler accompanied the team to Denver so he could check in with his Vail, Colo.-based surgeon, Randy Viola.

"I think it was more pushing than throwing," Cutler said. "It was more of a shot put in my hands than anything.

"I put the ball in the air a little bit. We'll see how it feels this week, and try to get better and better each day."

Cutler said Viola was happy with his progress.

"It's a matter of how comfortable I am in these next couple of weeks and whether we leave the pins in, or if I'm comfortable throwing with them or not," Cutler said. "As of Sunday, he was really happy with the progress I made so far."

Cutler said throwing the ball felt a little strange.

"It's trying to relearn something again," he said. "The ball was little bit foreign in my hand. It was a little bit stiff.

"Those pins in there, so I had a little bit of a shooting pain. So going forward in these next few weeks we just have to figure out once all the swelling is gone whether I can manage with these pins in, or we'll have to pull them."