Expected to miss at least four weeks because of a torn groin muscle, Cutler hopes to be back sooner.
"That's the goal," he said.
Cutler addressed the media Tuesday for the first time since he was injured in a loss to the Washington Redskins on Oct. 20. The Bears said he would miss at least a month and be evaluated week to week after that.
Coach Marc Trestman said that timeline was based on what doctors said is the norm for a player with Cutler's injury. It doesn't mean he can't come back sooner. He also said the doctors will decide when Cutler is ready.
"It could happen faster," Trestman said. "Jay's optimistic; we all are. But I'm not saying we're not bringing Jay back for four weeks. That's what the doctors have said and we'll work off that timeline. If it happens quicker, that would be great."
The Bears host Detroit the following week, and while receiver Brandon Marshall told Chicago's WMVP-AM 1000 on Monday the quarterback would be ready for that game, Cutler grinned when asked about that.
"He's optimistic. And so am I," Cutler said. "So we'll see how it goes."
Besides Cutler, Chicago also lost Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs to a small fracture in his left shoulder in that game. He was expected to miss about six weeks, leaving the struggling Bears (4-3) without their most important players on offense and defense.
They've dropped three of four, and after an off week, the schedule isn't exactly taking an easy turn.
Stopping Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, not to mention Ndamukong Suh and the Lions, would have been tough enough at full strength. Now, the Bears are trying to keep pace in the NFC North with key pieces missing.
Cutler was enjoying his best season in recent memory in his first year under Trestman, but things took a bad turn for him at Washington. He struggled in that game, and when he went down, there was no hiding his agony.
"This has been the most significant pain-wise that I've had," Cutler said. He said he's seeing improvement but wouldn't get into specifics about his recovery or his rehab.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press