A sprained thumb will keep Jay Cutler on the sideline for the Chicago Bears’ Sunday Night Football game against Dallas. In his place, the Bears will turn to Brian Hoyer and newly promoted backup Matt Barkley.
Cutler reportedly suffered the injury in Week 1 but still managed to start the Bears’ Week 2 contest against Philadelphia. He struggled in just over two quarters of play before leaving for the locker room and handing the reins to Hoyer. The journeyman backup played capably in relief, completing 9 of 12 pass attempts, but couldn’t rally a disappointing Bears team past rookie passer Carson Wentz and the Eagles.
Now, Chicago will hope Hoyer can be similarly accurate when it faces a primetime challenge from another rookie QB: the Cowboys’ Dak Prescott.
The timetable for the veteran passer’s return is currently unclear. An orthopedic surgeon described the ligament Cutler sprained as “the ‘Tommy John’ of the football quarterback” and noted recovery times can be unpredictable with the injury. Cutler has struggled with minor injuries throughout his career; he hasn’t played a full 16 game season since 2009, his first season in Chicago.
There were also reports earlier Sunday that Cutler was lobbying to play through the injury. However, the Bears decided he wasn’t ready to go just yet.
The Bears were tight-lipped on Cutler’s status throughout the week but tipped their hand when they promoted Barkley from the practice squad on Thursday. Barkley appeared in four games for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013 and 2014 and spent 2015 as a member of the Arizona Cardinals.