LAKE FOREST – As darkness set in Sunday evening, Josh McCown grabbed a seat on his couch in North Carolina and prepared to watch his old Bears teammates on TV.
He saw – yawn – Jay Cutler and – stretch – Matt Forte and – zzzz.
“Those night games are hard to stay awake for, especially on the East Coast,” McCown said with a smile. “I started kind of nodding off, and then my phone rang.”
Talk about a wake-up call.
Now, the 33-year-old father of four could be one injury away from playing at quarterback for the Bears on Monday against the San Francisco 49ers. After Cutler suffered a concussion Sunday on a helmet-to-helmet hit, the Bears re-signed McCown to provide depth at quarterback behind No. 2 option Jason Campbell.
Although Bears coach Lovie Smith has not ruled out Cutler for Monday’s game at Candlestick Park, he also has offered no indication that Cutler will play. The Bears did not practice Wednesday and did not have to provide an updated injury report, but that will change when the team takes the practice field Thursday.
If Campbell has to start in place of Cutler, Smith said, the Bears should be OK. Neither Campbell nor Cutler was made available to media members Wednesday.
Campbell, 30, has passed for 74 touchdowns and 50 interceptions in eight NFL seasons. He has started 70 games during previous stints with the Washington Redskins and Oakland Raiders, and his teams have gone 31-39 in those starts.
“We like our backup plan at the quarterback position,” Smith said. “We like Jason Campbell. We’ve been saying that all along.
“The reason we like him is based on what we’ve seen from him in meetings, on the practice field, in training camp, all those different situations. We brought him here for a situation like this, if it comes that Jay can’t go.”
Likewise, the Bears turned to McCown in case anything should happen to Campbell. McCown has started 33 games in parts of nine NFL seasons, including a pair of starts for the Bears last season after Cutler was injured and Caleb Hanie was benched.
In the 2011 regular season finale, McCown led the Bears to a 17-13 win against the Minnesota Vikings to salvage a .500 record. He spent training camp with the Bears this summer but was released Aug. 31 as the team kept only two quarterbacks.
Now that he is back with the Bears, McCown will have no trouble staying awake for the game.
“I know this is a unique team,” McCown said. “And as good as our defense is playing, as a quarterback, if you’re just smart with the football and protect it as an offense, you can give yourself a chance to win ball games.”