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Hand surgeon: Bears QB Cutler could miss up to 8 weeks

As far as Bears coach Lovie Smith was concerned Monday, information regarding Jay Cutler's broken right thumb was on a need-to-know basis.

All the Chicago media needed to know was that the Bears' quarterback fractured the thumb on his throwing hand Sunday against the San Diego Chargers and would need to have surgery. Any other details -- the severity of the injury, a specific timetable for Cutler's return, etc. -- were kept in house.

The lack of information circulating out of Halas Hall, combined with the fact that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's own broken thumb isn't expected to cause him to miss any games, had plenty of Bears fans wondering why Cutler couldn't grind his way through the pain, too.

The Chicago Tribune spoke to Dr. Mark Cohen, a hand surgeon at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, who broke down the potential differences between the two injuries.

"Jay Cutler having the surgery now means the bone is broken and shifted or displaced and is not what they call a stable fracture," Cohen said Monday. "It's an unstable fracture. On those, you can't wait because they'll heal crooked or won't heal properly. The guy had a significant thumb injury and he's got to have the bone fixed so the bone can heal. He has no choices. The doctors have no choices. This is cut-and-dried."

Cohen also indicated the Bears' hopes that Cutler will return before the end of the season might be too optimistic.

"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," 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."

There has been no word from the Bears as to when Cutler will undergo surgery. Smith simply said Monday the operation will happen as soon as possible.

Cutler has kept quiet throughout the whole ordeal, 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."

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