Bears coach Love Smith said quarterback Jay Cutler is ''feeling a lot better today'' after suffering a concussion against the Houston Texans on Sunday night and is hopeful Cutler will play next Monday night against the San Francisco 49ers.
Defensive end Shea McClellin, who suffered a concussion with more ''immediate'' symptoms agianst the Texans, also is feeling better. But Smith could not speculate on his status for the 49ers game, either.
''Both those players are feeling a lot better today,'' Smith said. ''We'll continue to evaluate them, just like after a player gets a concussion -- or any injury -- we'll continue to evaluate them before we let them go back in.''
According to NFL protocol on concussions that was updated in 2009, ''the [affected] player should not be considered for return-to-football activities until he is fully asymptomatic, both at rest and after exertion, has a normal neurological examination, normal neuropsychological testing, and has been cleared to return by both his team physician(s) and the independent neurological consultant.''
Smith said he believes Cutler suffered the concussion after he was hit in the head by Texans linebacker Tim Dobbins after Cutler had just released a pass to Devin Hester late in the second quarter. Dobbins was called for a personal foul on the play. But the pass was nullified because it was ruled Cutler had thrown the ball beyond the line of scrimmage.
Jason Campbell replaced Cutler in the second half and was 11-of-19 for 94 yards. He drove the Bears to a field goal that cut the Texans' lead to 10-6, but could not rally the Bears any closer in a 13-6 loss.
Campbell would start against the 49ers if Cutler cannot play. Smith said it is important to make a decision on a starter earlier in the week than later because of the nature of the quarterback position. But he also indicated that Campbell's experience in the NFL as a starter gives him a little more leeway than with an less-experienced player.
''You want to know as soon as possible of course to let that guy start getting the reps,'' Smith said. ''But I also think ... you have to keep that in mind on your backup quarterback and what he can handle as far as getting mental reps and taking advantage.''
''But I still think that you can get an awful lot going against the best defense in the league also each day. You're still throwing the ball to receivers, running plays. There's a lot you can get from that. You're in all of the meetings, and you are getting some reps.
''So a lot of that goes into who that backup quarterback is, and Jason Campbell is a student of the game. We felt real good about him about him being to come in if he was called upon.''