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Cutler remains sidelined by concussion

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Cutler remains sidelined by concussion

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler missed practice on Thursday and his playing status remains in question because of a concussion.

Coach Lovie Smith said Cutler continues to improve, but it's not clear if he'll be ready to play at San Francisco on Monday night.

If Cutler can't play, Jason Campbell will likely start.

The Bears believe Cutler was injured on a helmet-to-helmet hit from Houston's Tim Dobbins late in the second quarter of Sunday's loss. He finished the half but sat out the final two quarters after showing symptoms in the locker room at the break.

Cutler needs to be cleared by team physicians and independent neurological consultants before he can return. The same goes for teammate Shea McClellin and 49ers quarterback Alex Smith, who also suffered concussions last week.

Lovie Smith gave mostly vague answers about Cutler.

When asked if he expects his quarterback to practice on Friday, saying, ``Wait `til tomorrow and see.''

He also left open the possibility of Cutler playing without practicing this week, assuming he gets cleared. But he wouldn't say if the Bears would hold out their quarterback even if the doctors gave the OK to play.

``I can't wait for us to get to the point where Jay is ready to play and we'll make all those decisions then,'' Smith said. ``First just (get him) ready to practice and then we'll go to that next step.''

Defensive tackle Henry Melton said Cutler ``looks like the same old Jay.'' When he'll be able to play is another issue.

The Bears crumbled after Cutler broke his right thumb in the 10th game last season, finishing at 8-8 after a 7-3 start, but they believe they have a solid backup this time in Campbell. He could be tested this week by one of the top defenses in the league.

49ers backup QB Colin Kaepernick could face a similar situation against the Bears.

Lovie Smith said not knowing which quarterback they'll be facing impacts both teams.

``I think it helps if you know exactly who you're preparing for,'' Smith said. ``There's an advantage on our part if they don't know that Jay's playing. There's an advantage on their part that we don't know if Smith is playing. I think you look at that a little bit, but eventually you get to trying to defend the quarterback position. That's what we're doing. They're going to have somebody underneath center that we'll have to be able to contend with.''

While Cutler and McClellin sat out Thursday, receiver Alshon Jeffery practiced on a limited basis. He injured a hand against Jacksonville on Oct. 7 and has missed the past four games.

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3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

You may think this was an ugly four-game road trip for the Caps, but with a 3-2 win in Buffalo on Monday, Washington managed to earn five out of a possible eight points.

Here is why the Caps beat the Sabres and managed to save the road swing.

A missed high-stick (maybe) from Ovechkin

Ovechkin scored the first goal of the game in the second period as he deflected a high-shot from Christian Djoos down past goalie Chad Johnson. But did the deflection come on a high stick? The play was reviewed and the goal was ultimately upheld. According to the NHL, it was determined that "video review supported the Referee's call on the ice that Alex Ovechkin's stick was at or below the height of the crossbar when he tipped the puck into the Buffalo net."

NBC Sports Washington analyst Alan May broke the play down during the second intermission and made his case for why the NHL actually got the call wrong.

Was that a high stick? I don't know. As compelling an argument as May made, it still looks inconclusive which means the review made the right call. What surprises me is that the referee did not disallow the goal on the initial call.

Whether the review is truly inconclusive or flat out wrong, Washington was fortunate to walk away from this sequence with the goal.

MORE CAPITALS: BIZARRE SEQUENCE LEADS TO CAPS SCORING AND GETTING PENALIZED AT THE SAME TIME

A centimeter of ice

Hockey is a game of inches and it took less than an inch to put Washington up 2-0. When an Evgeny Kuznetsov shot hit off the boards and bounced back to the front of the net, it sparked a scrum next to goalie Chad Johnson. Eventually, John Carlson was able to get a swipe on the puck sending it trickling to the goal line, but Kyle Okposo was there waiting and appeared to kick it out to safety just before it crossed. A review triggered by the Situation Room, however, revealed that the puck had just barely managed to cross the goal line before Okposo got to it.

Here's the view the NHL released after the review:

Philipp Grubauer's third period

After dominating the first 40 minutes of the game and taking a 2-0 lead, Buffalo predictably made a late push in the third period with two goals to pull within one. Washington outshot the Sabres in the first and second periods, but Buffalo reversed that trend in a big way in the third as they outshot the Caps 17-6. Grubauer turned aside 15 of those shots and was impressive after barely being tested in the first two periods.

RELATED: CHECK OUT THE 3 STARS OF THE GAME FROM CAPS-SABRE

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3 stars of the game: Caps knock out the punchless Sabres

3 stars of the game: Caps knock out the punchless Sabres

Coming off an ugly 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, a Buffalo Sabres team missing star Jack Eichel was just what the doctor ordered for the Caps to get back on track. Washington dominated the first two periods and then survived a late surge from Buffalo for the 3-2 win.

After battling to a scoreless first, Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson spotted Washington a 2-0 lead in the second. They then held on in the third period as Buffalo began to tilt the ice in their favor, with Evgeny Kuznetsov scoring the empty-netter to put this game out of reach. Evander Kane would pull Buffalo within one, but with only three seconds left it was too little, too late.

Here are the three stars of the game:

1. Alex Ovechkin: Ovechkin opened up the scoring in the second period as he deflected down an innocent shot from Christian Djoos past Chad Johnson.

Ovechkin also set a physical tone as he battled with defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen all game long. After taking a high elbow from Ristolainen early in the game Ovechkin skated up to Ristolainen prior to the faceoff on his next shift and let him know that it was on. 

2. John Carlson: Carlson had a hand in both of Washington's first two goals. He recorded a secondary assist on Ovechkin's goal as he made a blue line pass to Djoos which Djoos fired on net and Ovechkin deflected. Carlson then managed to hit the puck past the goal line in a scrum next to Johnson. It looked initially like Kyle Okposo had managed to kick out the puck just before it crossed, but Carlson was awarded the goal as a review showed the puck had completely crossed the line.

3. Philipp Grubauer: A Sabres team that ranks last in the NHL in scoring and that was also without its leading scorer did not test Grubauer much in the first two periods. Facing a 2-0 deficit, however, Buffalo made a third period push to try to tie the game, but Grubauer was up to the task as he turned aside 15 of the 17 shots he faced in the final 20 minutes. He finished with 32 total saves on the night.