There have been questions about how many concussions Bears quarterback Jay Cutler may or may not have suffered at Vanderbilt. But former Denver Broncos coach Mike Shahanan, who drafted Cutler in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft, didn't have any reservations about Cutler's head and health.
Asked if concussions were a concern, Shanahan said, "Not at all, to be honest with you.
"He's such a tough guy, he doesn't even let you know when he's got a concussion, unless it's to an extreme," he said. "So that's never been a concern of mine."
Interestingly, in praising Cutler, Shanahan pointed to their last season together, in 2008. Cutler went to the Pro Bowl, attempting 616 passes, yet being sacked just 11 times.
"He did a great job getting rid of the ball," Shahanan said. "I think he set the record that year for the fewest sacks. I think one out of every 56 passes. He did, especially as a young player, did a lot of things that you're hoping a quarterback will do and that's why he made the Pro Bowl."
Shanahan, though, deflected a question about why Cutler has been so prone to be sacked since leaving Denver.
"I'm just starting to study that right now," he said. "I can guarantee you one thing: Jay Cutler is an excellent quarterback."
Asked if he ever dreamed of being the Bears coach when he was younger, Shanahan said, "I was always a big Chicago Bear fan.
"I'll always continue to be," said Shanahan, who grew up in Franklin Park, "except this weekend."
Here are other highlights:
* On if Albert Haynesworth will be active: "Well, I wouldn't say anybody is definitely active. But we plan on him being active."
* On what he liked so much about Cutler coming out of Vanderbilt: "Well, he was the SEC player of the year, coming from Vanderbilt, where they didn't have the supporting cast that some of the other teams had. He'd stand in the pocket, and make all the throws. He obviously had a very strong arm. Could concentrate down field, and make all the throws that pro quarterbacks normally have to make."
* On if he tells his defensive players to tone down the hits: "No. No we won't.
"You always want to play smart. You're looking for guys that are going to get after people. Obviously you don't want to take away their aggressiveness, but you're constantly showing tape of certain situations that occur, where a player might have been able to be a little smarter. You look at some situations where you scratch your head and you can't explain why. But, it's an ongoing process that most coaches try to educate their players. But, at the same time, we know the violence in the game."
* On the Bears defense: "They're aggressive. They're great competitors. Got a group of guys playing very hard and very consistent, and one of the reasons why their run defense is of the charts."
* On Rex Grossman: "Rex has done a great job. He was with Kyle in Houston, so he's been in the system for two years now. He's picked it up very quickly. I like what weave in Rex."