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Bears QB Cutler ready to take on training camp, critics

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Jay Cutler is ready for training camp, even if his critics have their doubts.

Chicago's new quarterback drew criticism recently from former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy and former Bears coach Mike Ditka for lacking maturity following the way he forced a trade out of Denver. Cutler said Wednesday he's ready to answer all the questions when training camp begins July 31.

"It's fine," Cutler said. "Any time a player goes to a different team, there's a lot to take in. There's an adjustment, not only in this city and with teammates, but a playbook. It's fine. There are a lot of questions out there and throughout the year hopefully a lot of them get answered in my favor."

The Bears finished organized team activities with coach Lovie Smith sticking up for his new quarterback even though Dungy, who is now working for NBC Sports, is his good friend and former boss.

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"Tony isn't a coach right now," Smith said. "He's a part of your group (the media) right now, so he has a job to do just like everybody else. But I'm going on what I know about (Cutler) right now. We're excited, the people here are excited about what he can do."

The Bears have been pleased with Cutler's ability to learn the playbook and show leadership -- a key question given the way he left the Broncos after his relationship with his new coach soured.

"Normally teammates, they want a guy who's going to show up every day and they want to know what to expect from you and what you're going to bring to the table each day," Smith said. "That's what they're going on. They don't go a lot on hearsay and how a player is supposed to be, good or bad. They want to see what he's done here and that's what they're going with. Again, it's been all positive."

Smith said the team will go into training camp without any lingering injury problems, although a handful of veterans sat out the last few organized team activities.

Running back Matt Forte rested a hamstring he pulled last week. Linebacker Brian Urlacher is "nicked," according to Smith, who did not reveal the nature of the injury.

"There's no issues with his neck, back or anything like that," Smith said, referring to past Urlacher injuries. "He is excited about where our football team is. We feel like we're going to be pretty good and he's one of our leaders."

Urlacher ran on the sidelines and stretched at Wednesday's practice. Linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer (hernia) missed all of OTAs with injuries but will return for training camp. The same is true of defensive tackle Tommie Harris (knee) and cornerback Charles Tillman (shoulder).

Smith pointed to cornerback Zack Bowman and linebacker Jamar Williams as players who made huge strides this spring.

"We still have to come together as a team," Smith said. "I'm excited about what we have done in shorts; we need to get in pads. We'll find a lot more about our football team then, especially with some of our linemen we brought in. But at this stage I think we've done about all we set out to do heading into this next phase."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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