LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Jay Cutler was in helmet and pads at practice, just don't expect to see him on the field when the Chicago Bears visit Carolina on Sunday.
The quarterback will sit out the game against the Panthers with a concussion from being sacked nine times in the first half of last week's loss to the New York Giants.
"He's making progress," coach Lovie Smith said Thursday. "All we know right now is he's not playing this week. Hopefully, he'll be ready to go next week."
Cutler is among several players who have had to sit out at least one game with a concussion, including fellow quarterbacks Kevin Kolb and Matt Moore.
Cutler was examined by team and independent doctors after practicing on a limited basis Wednesday, and the decision was made to have him sit this week.
He went through another limited practice Thursday and declined comment afterward. He is also expected to practice again Friday and have his status re-evaluated next week.
Veteran Todd Collins, who took over to start the second half against the Giants and left with a stinger, will make his first start in three years.
"I'm pretty comfortable," Collins said. "The best way to provide leadership, I think, is to go out there and perform well. That's the job as the quarterback, to move the ball and score points. That's what I'm going to try to do to help lead the team."
Collins said Smith told him late Thursday morning that he would be starting, news that he was expecting.
"Jay went down with a concussion, and usually with concussions, they want you to come back fully ready before you get on the field again," he said.
This will be the first time Cutler has missed a start due to injury. He had made 57 in a row since Denver turned to him as a rookie in 2006, but he'll be watching this week after a brutal performance against the Giants that wiped out much of the good will created by a 3-0 start.
"I'm not going to sit here and say it doesn't hurt," receiver Devin Hester said. "It does hurt."
Smith said the Bears started noticing symptoms after the second-to-last play of the second quarter, when Cutler's head banged the turf while being taken down by Aaron Ross on the Giants' ninth sack.
Cutler, though, started taking a beating as soon as he stepped on the field. There was one sack early in the second quarter when Osi Umenyiora ran past tight end Greg Olsen and nailed Cutler from behind, the ball popping out and into the arms of center Olin Kreutz.
Cutler got up and took a few steps toward the wrong sideline before correcting himself.
Soon after, he had what appeared to be a dazed look when the TV cameras showed him sitting on the sideline, and his decision-making was questionable at best. Cutler held onto the ball too long at times and didn't see open receivers, and he wound up taking hit after hit.
It didn't help that the Giants also had a clear path to the quarterback.
"Everybody's just counting us out," right guard Lance Louis said. "It seems like we're the only ones that believe in us."
If he's worried about taking a beating, Collins wouldn't say.
"If you're thinking about the protection and the offensive line, you know I've got better things to worry about than that because you simply can't control it," he said. "You've got to let those guys do their job and I'm going to try to do mine and get the ball to the playmakers."
The 38-year-old Collins has endured long stretches with little activity since he entered the league with Buffalo in 1995. He has barely played since he helped Washington win its final four games in 2007.
He took over for the injured Jason Campbell in a game against Chicago and threw for two touchdowns after going three years without attempting a pass in a 24-16 victory. That came only 1½ weeks after the shooting death of safety Sean Taylor and three days after his burial.
The Redskins closed out that season by winning the next three games with Collins, but he did not take a snap in 2008 and made just three appearances as a backup in 2009. He got released last March and signed a one-year contract with the Bears in late August.
"I've been around for awhile," Collins said. "It's a team game, but I look forward to going out there and doing my part, contribute to a victory."