The thought all along in Chicago is that injured quarterback Jay Cutler would have a chance to return before the end of the season after surgery on his right thumb.
Much of the healing process following the Nov. 23 surgery that inserted three screws and two pins to stabilize his right thumb is based on the waiting game. But outside of some possible help from prayers, Cutler is also making some strides on his own.
"We were doing some grip stuff this past week, just trying to get some flexibility and mobility back in there," Cutler told "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000 Wednesday. "The next couple of weeks, hopefully, I'll be able to throw the football and hopefully some of this pain subsides."
Cutler said "everything was on track" in his rehab, noting he had an X-ray last week and had the stitches removed on Wednesday.
"It's just a matter of letting that bone really heal and maybe taking the pins out, maybe not," Cutler said. "It's just time, and time is not really on our side right now, but that's the only thing we can really do."
With Cutler rehabbing, the Bears opted to stick with Caleb Hanie instead of bringing in a veteran (Donovan McNabb, Brett Favre) for the stretch run. Cutler didn't exactly dismiss the idea that the Bears didn't sign a quarterback because there's still an expectation he will return.
"You know, we hope so. I hope so," Cutler said. "I'd like to play as soon as possible. But we can't make any assumptions one way or the other."
The overlooked aspect of adding a veteran, of course, is the reality of learning Mike Martz's complex offense on the fly. Cutler called it "pointless."
"Bringing in a veteran quarterback this late in the game who doesn't really have a good understanding, or has at least been in Mike's offense before, it would be pointless," he said. "You're not going to bring in a guy right now and get him ready in two weeks and try to learn this offense. It doesn't happen like that."