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Cutler needs doctor’s final clearance to play

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(H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com)
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler scampers away from the Tennessee Titans' Derrick Morgan in the first quarter Nov. 4. Cutler is waiting to be cleared to return to action after suffering a concussion.

Count Bears quarterback Jay Cutler as a definite maybe to play in Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings.

The Bears listed Cutler as questionable to play Sunday after he was limited in practice again Friday at Halas Hall. To play this weekend, Cutler must be cleared by an independent neurologist as the final step of his recovery from a concussion he suffered Nov. 11 against the Houston Texans.

“He’s looking better,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said. “The last phase of his evaluation will be [today], and then we’ll be able to let you know from there.”

Teammates said Cutler showed no lingering effects of his injury during practice.

“He looked good,” running back Matt Forte said. “He should play, I think.”

Although Cutler spoke with reporters this week and took part in his weekly radio show, nothing is guaranteed until he receives final clearance to play. The San Francisco 49ers learned that lesson in Week 11 after Alex Smith participated in most of the first-team practice drills but failed to receive final clearance from a neurologist, paving the way for Colin Kaepernick to earn his first NFL start.

If Cutler cannot play, Jason Campbell will make his second consecutive start after struggling in a 32-7 loss to the 49ers on Monday. Campbell returned to full participation in practice Friday after being limited a day earlier because of injured ribs, and he was listed as probable.

Clearly, the Bears would be in better shape with Cutler taking snaps under center. Cutler is 5-1 with 15 touchdowns and six interceptions for a 100.8 passer rating in six career games against the Vikings. Campbell never has faced the Vikings in 75 career games, which includes 71 starts.

As expected, the Bears ruled out rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery for Sunday’s game because of a knee injury. Tight end Kellen Davis practiced on a limited basis Friday and was listed as questionable because of an ankle injury.

• The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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