It was halftime when Bears quarterback Jay Cutler approached backup Jason Campbell.
Jay told me, Hey, get ready. Im not sure now of the status of my injury. Just get ready to go out and play the second half, Campbell recalled. From that point on, the coaches came out and said, Youre in. Lets roll.
Cutler suffered a concussion in the Bears 13-6 loss to the Houston Texans on Sunday night, and its uncertain what his status is entering next Mondays game against the San Francisco 49ers. It was a tough blow for the Bears, who couldnt overcome another stale offensive evening on a sloppy night at Soldier Field.
But it was a tougher blow for Cutler, who took a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit from Texans middle linebacker Tim Dobbins near the end of the first half. Cutler was down for a few moments before popping back up. He finished the first half before telling Campbell at halftime that the backup better be prepared.
Dobbins saw the hit differently.
I did not hit him in his head and actually he ran into me. I just felt like he was going to take off and run with the ball and I thought he was past the line, Dobbins said. I was very surprised when he went down to the ground but I hope hes all right. He is definitely a tough quarterback.
Coach Lovie Smith was hopeful that Cutler could return next week, but you cant go that far. We just know he had symptoms, which started clearing up after the half. When a guy doesnt finish the game, youve just got to go with that right now.
Asked if he could tell Cutler had a concussion, Campbell said no, not right off the bat.
You know, Jays a tough guy. I think he tried to keep fighting and fighting through it, Campbell continued. Unfortunately he wasnt able to keep it going. You just try to make the right decision and do the right thing at this point in the season.
Yes, it is about doing the right thing. Ironically, Cutlers concussion comes on the night the Bears and U.S. Army co-hosted a pregame forum to discuss concussionstraumatic brain injury. The Bears also lost defensive end Shea McClellin to a concussion early in Sundays game.
And it was a tough weekend for other quarterbacks as well. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick sustained a concussion, as did Alex Smith of the 49ers -- the Bears next opponent.
But the Bears concern is obviously for Cutler. Hes sustained his share of nasty hits and has certainly proven to be one of the toughest players in the league. Still, the hits -- and head injuries -- start to add up. This is Cutlers second concussion, the last coming on Oct. 3, 2010, against the New York Giants when Cutler was sacked nine times in the first half. At one point in that game, Cutler wobbled toward the wrong sideline.
Hes a tough guy and obviously we want him on the field, Bears center Roberto Garza said. Nobody can question his toughness. We look to have him back soon.
But if Cutler cant return next week, the Bears are confident in what Campbell can do.
Thats why we got Jason. Were better off now than we were last year at this time, Brian Urlacher said. Hopefully hell be back soon. But Jason did a good job. Its a tough situation throwing the ball in those conditions. It cant be easy. I thought he came in and did a good job for us.