Chicago Bears

Bears' Smith vows caution with concussions

LAKE FOREST – Bears coach Lovie Smith said Wednesday that Jay Cutler had improved since suffering a concussion Sunday against the Houston Texans.

When pressed for details, Smith didn’t budge.

“Jay is getting better,” Smith said. “That’s all I can say right now.”

As part of standard NFL protocol, Cutler needs to be cleared by an independent neurologist before he can return to the practice field. Even if Cutler is cleared in the coming days, the Bears could elect to give him an extra week of rest.

Like it or not, Smith and the Bears have become part of a national storyline when it comes to diagnosing and treating concussed players. Cutler was one of three quarterbacks, along with San Francisco’s Alex Smith and Philadelphia’s Michael Vick, to leave a game because of a concussion this weekend.

Smith said his philosophy on concussions has not changed.

“I know right now we’re talking a lot more about concussions, daily, and everybody has an opinion on them,” Smith said. “I would say they’ve always been there. And again, we’re treating them the same way we have always.

“If a guy’s in trouble, you don’t play him. Once he doesn’t have symptoms, and he can start practicing and he can start playing, we’ve played him.

“I know we’re talking about it a lot more, but we’re still treating it and looking at concussions the same way we did way back then.”

Foot in mouth: Shortly after Bears kicker Robbie Gould criticized the playing surface at Soldier Field, he apologized in the form of a team-issued news release.

“I need to apologize to the grounds crew at Soldier Field and our grounds crew for my recent comments regarding the field,” Gould said. “I have since learned a lot more about the NFL’s policies and the measures that are taken at Soldier Field to ensure a reliable and safe playing surface. It was my mistake to speak prior to having a full understanding.”

Gould, who clanked a 48-yard field goal attempt off of the left upright Sunday, previously criticized the playing surface for being too soft and for affecting the game.

Bears bits: Rookie defensive end Shea McClellin declined to speak with reporters Wednesday because he had yet to be evaluated by an independent neurologist. McClellin suffered a concussion in the first quarter Sunday and did not return. … Cornerbacks Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman rank first and second at their position in fan balloting for the Pro Bowl.

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