The Chicago Bears have done a laudable job of surviving injuries this season with a winning record still intact at 5-4. Things will just get tougher from here.
The team announced Monday that cornerback Charles Tillman was placed on injured reserve with a designation to return because of a triceps injury. Meanwhile, quarterback Jay Cutler will be out for a week with a high ankle sprain, coach Marc Trestman said. Cutler suffered the injury Sunday against Detroit, and tried to play through it. Trestman admitted that he might have stuck with Cutler too long in Sunday's loss to the Lions.
Tillman's injury is, oddly, the more devastating news here. Chicago has lost too much top-tier talent on defense this season, with Henry Melton out for the season and linebacker Lance Briggs sidelined by a knee injury. Tillman has struggled with injuries all year, but he's still the best cornerback on the team.
By rule, Tillman is eligible to return to practice in six weeks and eligible to return to game action in eight weeks. That won't be until the playoffs, if the Bears make them. We'd be surprised if they are still playing in January, at this stage. It's fair to wonder if Tillman, who is a free agent after the season, has played his last down as a member of the Bears.
For the offense, Trestman said "it's safe to say" that backup Josh McCown will start against the Baltimore Ravens. McCown has shown in three separate appearances that he can run the Bears' offense just fine. There's a strong argument to be made that McCown has played even better than Cutler this season, although the Bears' offense has looked strong with both players under center.
It's McCown's team for now. The offense has carried these Bears, and that will have to continue.