Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo confirmed that quarterback Jay Cutler will have surgery Wednesday to repair the broken thumb on his throwing hand.
Angelo said team doctors and the football staff are hopeful that Cutler will be able to return during the regular season, but they won't have a grasp on a timetable until after the surgery.
"We're anticipating a good result, but we'll know more hopefully in the next 48 hours," Angelo said. "It's a shame because he was really coming into his own. He was really understanding the protections, keeping his eye level down the field. The things he was doing were pretty special."
Plenty of doubt exists that Cutler could return before the playoffs. The Chicago Tribune spoke to a hand surgeon who believed Cutler could miss up to eight weeks.
"It will take the bone 4 to 6 weeks to heal, and he will need at least a couple of weeks to get his mobility back and be able to grip a football with that thumb even after the six weeks," Dr. Mark Cohen said. "I don't know the details of the schedule, but to me, the earliest possible return to play for an injury like that is closer to eight weeks."
Cutler had kept quiet since the injury, but he broke his silence Tuesday on Twitter when he thanked fans for their support.
"Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers," Cutler wrote. "The support has been great. Going to get my thumb fixed and be back as soon as I possibly can."
Caleb Hanie is the Bears' starting quarterback for the foreseeable future. The team hopes to have a veteran quarterback signed by Wednesday, Angelo said, and J.T. O'Sullivan and Josh McCown are among the players being considered.
Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89.