Who's that again? Cutler and the Chicago Bears are thin at receiver as season nears



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Indianapolis Colts defensive back Dwight Lowery (33) chases Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Indianapolis, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Sam Riche)


LAKE FOREST, Illinois — Jay Cutler could only smile and roll with the injuries.

The Chicago Bears quarterback on Wednesday found himself throwing to third-team receivers after yet another injury to one of his targets. This time, it was veteran Eddie Royal who sat out practice, nursing a hip injury. Royal became the fourth Bears wide receiver to go down with an injury in preseason.

"Yeah, I've never been a part of anything like that — all four going down like that," Cutler said.

Alshon Jeffery remains out and day to day with a calf strain. He hasn't played in preseason and likely will miss Saturday's third preseason game at Cincinnati. Marquess Wilson suffered a pulled hamstring in Saturday's preseason win over the Indianapolis Colts and is day to day. Rookie Kevin White will be unavailable well into the regular season after preseason shin surgery.

"Kevin White is not going to come back any time soon and we'll see about some of these other guys," Cutler said. "There's others teams out there that are dealing with the same situation we're dealing with. We've just got to work with the guys we have, and I know (offensive coordinator) Adam (Gase) and the rest of the guys are going to put together a good game plan each week."

Coach John Fox wouldn't speculate on the length of time Royal, Jeffery or Wilson would miss, but acknowledged using reserves slows down an offense trying to operate under a new system.

Cutler found himself throwing at practice Wednesday to Josh Bellamy, Cameron Meredith, Marc Mariani and Rashad Lawrence.

"Obviously guys appear on depth charts for a reason," Fox said. "As I've mentioned before, we (in Denver) went to a Super Bowl and lost six defensive starters throughout that year, and three of them were Pro Bowlers. So, yeah, I would rather have them (top receivers) in the game but nobody comes to rescue you, that's not a reality, it can't happen."

The onus is on Cutler to make viable threats out of the backups.

"It just makes me have to work a little bit harder," Cutler said. "It makes me have to communicate with them and make sure they know exactly what they're supposed to do, so I've got to be on it on my end, as well. It's a challenge for us. Like I said, it's a really good group of guys, so I enjoy working with them."

The receiver corps is not alone in being hit with injuries and uncertainty. Cutler's offensive line is seeing some challenges with the benching of right tackle Jordan Mills in favor of Charles Leno Jr., and a back injury plaguing starting left tackle Jermon Bushrod.

Leno continues taking most of the first-team snaps, although Mills is getting a few.

"Everyone's working," Cutler said. "We're still kind of in training camp mode. We'll start fine-tuning things as we go."

Cutler was asked about comments made in Chicago magazine by Bears tight end Martellus Bennett.

"Why does everyone always assume the quarterback is the leader?" Bennett asked in the interview. "Leading the offense and leading the team are two different things. Sometimes I like Cutty, and sometimes I don't. When I think of a leader, I think, 'If he started a company, would guys come to work for him?' There's a lot of guys on our team who, if they started a business, it'd be, '(deleted) you, I'm gonna go work at McDonald's.'"

Asked if he would work at a company Cutler started, Bennett said, "There are veterans that people follow ... and then you've got guys that lead the offense, get everyone lined up, get to your spot, do what you need to do, let's do our plays."

Cutler just shrugged off the comments.

"Marty, he's going to be an opinionated guy; it's just kind of who he is," Cutler said. "That's not going to change anytime soon. Some of us agree with some of the stuff Marty says. Some of us don't agree with some of the stuff Marty says. But Marty's going to say it either way."

Cutler said Bennett worked closely with him in Nashville in the offseason and the two have a good relationship.

"I've got a good rapport with Marty, no matter what he says," Cutler said. "I think he was trying to say there's different leaders in every company, and the Bears, we're not excluded from that group. Coach Fox is going to lead differently than I am, and Adam Gase is going to lead differently than I am, and Marty's going to lead a different way from the way that I do."

NOTES: Linebacker Pernell McPhee returned to practice after missing Tuesday due to a chest injury. ... Safety Ryan Mundy has missed all the practices this week due to a hip injury. Rookie Adrian Amos continues to work with the first team at safety in Mundy's place.

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