Cutler could shut it down

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler watches from the sidelines as his team takes on the Vikings at Soldier...

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler watches from the sidelines as his team takes on the Vikings at Soldier Field in Chicago, Ill., Oct. 16, 2011. (FRANK POLICH/Reuters)

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:52 PM ET

TORONTO - There’s a good chance that the 7-4 Chicago Bears will make the playoffs with quarterback Jay Cutler on the shelf. There’s no chance that the Bears will make much noise once they get there without him.

Given that likely scenario, Cutler added some uncertainty and a good measure of gloom on Wednesday when he told reporters that he could be done for the season following surgery to his broken right thumb, an injury that occurred in a victory over San Diego, Nov. 20.

“I’ve got to be smart about it,” Cutler said at the Bears practice. “Obviously, I’d want to play next week if they’d allow me. I don’t think that’s going to be in the cards. It could be I’m done for the season. I just have to be smart about it and realize that there is a long-term picture here. At the same point, I want to be out there and my teammates want me to be out there.”

He added that at this point, there is no timetable regarding his return.

“We’ll have to take it week by week, take some X-rays and CT scans the next couple weeks and see if the bone’s healing like it should be,” Cutler said. “I don’t want to put a real number on it because I just don’t know.”

With Cutler out, the Bears are going with backup Caleb Hanie.

Hanie threw three interceptions in a 25-20 loss last week to Oakland but the Bears have a soft schedule the rest of the regular season save for a Christmas Day meeting with the Packers in Green Bay.

Their other remaining games are against Kansas City, Denver, Seattle and Minnesota.

FREEMAN’S SHOTGUN FORMATION NEEDS WORK

Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman has been misfiring for most of the season and now comes the revelation that an accident at a gun range may have been one of the contributing factors.

On Oct. 23, the Buccaneers lost to the Chicago Bears in Wembley Stadium, a game in which Freeman sprained his right thumb.

On Wednesday, the Tampa Tribune reported that the following week, when the Bucs had a bye (Oct. 31), Freeman required five stitches to his right thumb following a mishap at a gun range.

The Bucs confirmed to the newspaper that Freeman suffered “a small cut on the outside of his right thumb due to an unexpected recoil” while firing a gun.

“My thumb got sprained in the Chicago game and got cut at the range,” Freeman wrote in a text message to the Tribune. “The cut was only cosmetic and didn’t affect my play. The sprain, on the other hand, lingered for a few weeks.’’

Freeman has not missed any games due to the two injuries but he has not performed to the level of effectiveness he achieved in 2010 when he threw 25 touchdowns and was intercepted just six times in leading the Bucs to a 10-6 record.

This season, the Bucs have taken a step back and are 4-7. In the four games since the gun accident, all losses, Freeman has thrown five touchdown passes and six interceptions.

RICE COOKED

Well, that’s it for wide receiver Sidney Rice this season.

On Wednesday, the day before Seattle plays host to the Philadelphia Eagles, Seahawks head Pete Carroll announced that Rice will be placed on injured reserve as a result of the concussion he suffered in Sunday’s loss to the Washington Redskins.

It was the second concussion in three weeks for Rice, who also missed two games at the start of the season because of a shoulder injury.

“We’re just trying to do the right thing and protect our guy,” Carroll told reporters. “We love him and he’s a great kid in the program. We know he won’t get hurt again, so we’ll get him strong and ready for next year.”

Limited to six games as a member of the Minnesota Vikings in 2010 due to a hip injury, Rice appeared in nine games with Seattle this season in which time he had 32 receptions for 484 yards and two touchdowns.

A second-round selection of the Vikings in 2007, Rice, 25, had a breakout year in 2009 when he had 83 receptions for 1,312 yards and eight TDs.

STOP BOOING SANCHEZ

Quarterback Mark Sanchez has heard plenty of cheers and lots of boos in his up-and-down career with the New York Jets.

So it comes as something of a surprise when teammate Jim Leonhard told WFAN the other day that he was “disappointed” in Jets fans for getting on Sanchez in the pre-game introductions last Sunday in their game against the Bills.

Booing in New York? Who knew things could get so ugly.

“I think we have a great crowd,” Leonhard, a Jets safety, told the radio station. “I think probably for one of the first times I was kind of disappointed. Our starting quarterback gets booed in introductions. As players, you kind of turn to each other and say, ‘You know what? I guess we’re in this one today by ourselves. We can’t rely on the crowd to give us that energy because it’s already started off on a bad note.’

“So I will say that this past weekend was really the first time that I’ve been kind of frustrated going into a game, which is bad.”

So bad, so sad.

The boos, though, didn’t seem to bother Sanchez.

“Well, of course you hear them,” Sanchez said. “You hear a lot of stuff.”

At 6-5, the Jets are in a dog fight for a wild-card spot.

If they miss the playoffs, boos by the home crowd will be the least of their problems.


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