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Bears' Cutler to miss 49ers game with concussion

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Bears' Cutler to miss 49ers game with concussion

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) The Chicago Bears were bracing for an injury to Jay Cutler long before the season started.

Now, they'll see just how prepared they are.

Cutler will miss Monday's game at San Francisco because of a concussion, leaving the Bears without their starting quarterback. The team announced the decision Friday, meaning Jason Campbell is the likely starter against the 49ers.

Star receiver Brandon Marshall said Cutler is getting better, but he also said there's a bigger picture that goes beyond this week's game.

``Our life, our health, is more important than football,'' Marshall said. ``I think we'll get Jay back sooner than later.''

For now, the Bears believe they have enough to get by. They brought in Campbell in the offseason for a situation like this, and he found out before Thursday's practice that he'll be starting.

``You definitely don't want to see anyone get hurt or injured in this business,'' said Campbell, who's made 70 starts in his career with Washington and Oakland. ``We understand it is a tough sport. Sometimes, things like that happen.''

Coach Lovie Smith would not say if Cutler will make the trip to San Francisco. Players need to be cleared by team physicians and an independent neurological consultant before they can return, under NFL safety protocols. It's possible that the Bears could hold him out even if he gets the OK from doctors.

When asked about that, all Smith would say is: ``He's not playing this week, and that's about as much as I'm going to go into it.''

He added Cutler is getting better and the Bears hope to have him back for the game against Minnesota on Nov. 25.

The Bears will also be missing defensive end Shea McClellin because of a concussion. They might get receiver Alshon Jeffery back from a hand injury. He's missed the past four games but went through a full practice on Friday.

Cutler's status was in question after he sat out the second half of Sunday night's loss to Houston. The Bears believe he was injured on a helmet-to-helmet hit by the Texans' Tim Dobbins, who was fined $30,000 by the league, late in the second quarter.

Cutler initially did not show any symptoms and took seven more snaps in the first half. It wasn't until halftime that the symptoms showed up, and the Bears went the rest of the way with Campbell. They also signed veteran Josh McCown this week, giving them a backup behind Campbell.

The 49ers, meanwhile, could be without starting quarterback Alex Smith, who suffered a concussion of his own last week.

The concussion isn't the first for Cutler. He missed a game after being sacked nine times in the first half of a loss at the New York Giants in October 2010. Last year, Cutler broke his right thumb late in a win over San Diego that put Chicago at 7-3. His replacement, Caleb Hanie, struggled and the Bears lost five of their last six.

That cost general manager Jerry Angelo his job. Phil Emery replaced him and retooled the roster, landing Marshall in a blockbuster trade with Miami and addressing several other areas - including backup quarterback by signing Campbell to a one-year deal.

``I think when you look at what happened to the Bears last year, I think that's the reason why he's here,'' Marshall said. ``He's more than capable and we're fortunate to have a starting quarterback as our backup.''

That's why the Bears believe they can get by without Cutler, at least for now. They have an experienced backup and don't expect the same sort of meltdown.

``I understand a year ago what happened, but at the same time, I've got to do what I've got to do within the system, different football team,'' Campbell said.

The Bears lead the NFC North at 7-2, one of the top records in the NFC. But they are in the tightest division in the league, with Green Bay at 6-3, the Vikings at 6-4 and Detroit still in the picture at 4-5.

Campbell, who threw for 94 yards last week, started six games for Oakland a year ago before breaking his collarbone. He has completed more than 60 percent of his attempts and thrown for 14,511 yards since he entered the league in 2005.

``I think both of them have ability to make any throw on the field,'' said 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers, Campbell's friend and teammate in Washington.

Marshall said Cutler is more mobile and Campbell a bit more comfortable in the pocket.

``It's the opposite, you would think Campbell would be like Vick,'' he said. ``But Jay Cut is like (Michael) Vick, and Jason is more of a pocket guy, I would say. Cut likes to run around a little bit, so that's a little opposite. But because of the picture we paint on black quarterbacks, it's supposed to be a guy who runs around a lot, but Jason does a good job in the pocket, really reading coverage, really taking control of the offense. We're fortunate to have him.''

Until this week, Campbell really hadn't worked with the starters in practice since training camp.

How fast he can get on the same page with the rest of the starters remains to be seen, even if the players don't expect any problems there.

In particular, it'll be interesting to see how the dynamic between the star receiver and the quarterback changes. Cutler has a long history with Marshall from their days in Denver and has been leaning on him.

``I can't make up for four years that they've been together,'' Campbell said. ``But at the same time, you can see that on the field, when they play together, they see certain things together. A lot of that comes from the experience that they have from back in their days in Denver. But for me, just talking to B, we'll pretty much do what we do. At the same time, if we see things, then we see things. But we're not going to be trying to push the envelope on things that are just not there.''

Notes: LB Brian Urlacher (coach's decision) and DT Matt Toeaina (calf) did not practice.

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Vernon Davis urges Redskins fans to have patience with Bruce Allen

Vernon Davis urges Redskins fans to have patience with Bruce Allen

Tight end Vernon Davis has seen the Washington Redskins go through many ups and downs since becoming a part of the organization in 2016, but the 2018 season brought a new set of challenges.

Two injured quarterbacks headlined the Redskins' 7-9 season and fans were once again calling for team president Bruce Allen's job.

In a rare media availability during Tuesday's Senior Bowl practice, Allen noted how "close" he felt the Redskins were to reaching the postseason but his continued lack of transparency is something that does not sit well with Redskins fans.

Davis, speaking Wednesday on 106.7 The Fan's Sports Junkies, is standing by the team's president.

"I strongly believe, like I said before, we have the pieces to win games."

"Bruce and Dan [Snyder], those guys are constantly sitting in their office trying to find ways to win. It's not like they're not doing a great job with it. I believe in them. I believe that they're going to make the right decision to do the best they can do to help us win football games around here because that's what they're there for. Bruce is there to make sure that we're a championship team. Make sure that we're winning. Making sure that we have all the pieces when it comes to different positions on the football field. So, they're doing just that.

Allen has continued to praise the Redskins fans for their passion throughout the offseason. But if you know the Redskins, don't expect many changes to take place. 

And if it's hard for you to hang on to the little insight Allen provides Redskins fans with in regards to the future of the organization, Davis urges fans to keep holding on. 

"I wouldn't quite count him out. I just say have patience and continue to support the Washington Redskins." 

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Grizzlies putting Gasol, Conley on trade block creates opportunity if surging Wizards turn aggressive

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Grizzlies putting Gasol, Conley on trade block creates opportunity if surging Wizards turn aggressive

News that the “grit ‘n grind” era is apparently ending in Memphis effectively tips off the NBA trade deadline rumors.

No shock if the John Wall and Dwight Howard-less Washington Wizards receive a mention or two for deals involving Marc Gasol and Mike Conley Jr. Mention and final destination are different worlds, of course.

ESPN reported Tuesday that the Grizzlies are finally open to hearing trade offers for their two franchise stalwarts. They never reached the level of other famed big man/guard tandems, but Gasol and Conley were at the center of a seven-year run of playoff appearances peaking with the 2013 Western Conference finals.

With age and injuries striking the duo, Memphis slipped in recent years. The postseason streak ended last season. After a hot start to the 2018-19 campaign including an early-season win over the Wizards, the Grizzlies have lost 12 of 13, falling to 19-28 overall. While that record would not automatically end playoff hopes in the Eastern Conference, it slots Memphis 14th out of 15 teams in the West.

As NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman noted, finding a trade partner will not come easy for the Grizzlies.

Gasol, 33, has a player option next season for $25.6 million. That’s a huge number for a center in this perimeter-oriented era on top of the $24.1 million the three-time All-Star is earning this campaign. Gasol’s highly skilled game is showing signs of decline, though his basic statistical numbers (15.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.3 blocks) remain helpful.

Conley, one of the NBA’s most underrated talents of his generation, offers lead guard, leadership skills – and a financial challenge. From Feldman:

Mike Conley will have a lot of interested parties, he is an All-Star level player (he’d make it in the East easy, but in the West probably falls short again), but his contract is bigger than Gasol’s. Conley makes $30.5 million this season and has $67 million the two seasons after that (the second is an early termination option, but Conley isn’t opting out of that money, so consider that $67 million fully guaranteed).

As Memphis’ season turned south, Washington surged, winning seven of its last 10 games to move into a ninth-place tie with Detroit. Still two games back of the eighth and final playoff berth, the Wizards could use general depth if not actual star power with Wall sidelined for the season. Howard (back surgery) and forward Markieff Morris (neck) face uncertain recovery timelines.

No disrespect to the Wall and Howard replacements, Tomas Satoransky and Thomas Bryant, but Gasol and Conley would upgrade Washington at those positions. The cost, however, keeps such grandiose thoughts on the shelf. 

During the team’s recent London trip, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis emphatically stated the team would not consider throwing in the towel despite injuries and a losing record. That is not the same as stating the luxury-tax paying team would take on significant salary or trade coveted assets for help.

Washington’s 2019 first-round selection takes on additional importance because the team already exceeds next season’s salary cap with only five players under contract.

Now, if some creative mind conjures a trade that removes the final year of Ian Mahinmi’s four-year, $64 million contract from the books without sending Washington dramatically further into the tax or deals with Wall's trade kicker, hmmm.

If the Wizards decide the overall roster needs a dramatic shake-up, perhaps a deal centered on Wall and Conley gets interesting (Thanks, NBA trade machine, though maybe include draft picks already).

Wall’s run of recent surgeries combined with his four-year, $170 supermax contract kicking in next season and that substantial kicker may end all discussion. However, he is three years younger than Conley. Memphis, set to build around 19-year-old Jaren Jackson Jr., could find that age factor appealing or use Wall/Conley to fascilitate a larger trade.

Other teams will offer more future-friendly deals for Gasol and Conley. The Wizards appear set in their belief the current roster, even with the injuries, can reach the playoffs. Therefore, it's wise setting aside the notion of a major move from Washington involving the Grizzlies’ stars or any other high profile/big salary players. Bookmark the trade machine page regardless. 

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