Chicago Bears starting quarterback Jay Cutler was cleared by doctors to engage in limited participation with the first-team offense during Thursday's practice, but his status for the huge divisional matchup against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday is still in doubt.
The Bears (7-3) have lost their last two games and have now fallen behind the Green Bay Packers for first place in the division. If Chicago loses on Sunday to the Vikings, the team will fall to third place in the NFC North, by virtue of tiebreaker rules.
It's a tough position for Cutler and the Bears. Backup quarterback Jason Campbell hasn't looked mobile enough to survive behind the team's patchy offensive line, and the veteran's 61.7 Passer Rating through two games serves as a reminder that there is a big drop-off when Cutler isn't on the field.
Head coach Lovie Smith got tricked into thinking the San Francisco 49ers would start Alex Smith last week in part because of fuzzy statements from the coach, so Lovie offered his own non-definitive statements this week (via CSN-Chicago):
"[Cutler and rookie defensive end Shea McClellin] were able to do some things on a limited basis," according to coach Lovie Smith. "So it's looking better for them, to get them on the football field."
The Bears own the No. 31 passing offense in the NFL. They will host the Vikings on Sunday at 12 p.m. CT on FOX.