Preview: Bears at Panthers

It was only a matter of time before Jay Cutler was KO'd.

The Chicago Bears' quarterback was sacked nine times in the first half of last week’s loss to the New York Giants before finally absorbing the knockout blow late in the second quarter. Cutler left the game with a concussion and never returned.

He won’t return this week either as Chicago (3-1) visits the Carolina Panthers (0-4) for a 1 p.m. start Sunday.

The storyline was supposed to be the return of Julius Peppers to Carolina, where he became an All-Pro defensive end and the Panther fans’ favorite son. But Cutler’s absence is now the focus.

Many speculated that Cutler was removed from Sunday night’s game not because he was injured but because the Bears’ offensive line could not protect him. But Cutler returned to practice during the week and still demonstrated some symptoms of a concussion and will be held out of this week's game.

That gives veteran clipboard holder Todd Collins the start. Collins also left Monday’s game with a stinger following a New York sack but is healthy. He expected to start Sunday.

Collins is in his 16th NFL season and has not started a game since 2007 while with the Washington Redskins. He’s thrown 34 passes in the league in the past three seasons.

Both of these offenses are a mess.

The Panthers, ranked last in the NFL in scoring, are still searching for their first win. With coach John Fox’s hot seat beginning to sizzle, Carolina played well last week but still lost at New Orleans 16-14 on a late field goal.

Wide receiver Steve Smith is sidelined with a high ankle sprain. Although he is listed as questionable, he watched practice with an air cast on his leg during the week. Carolina has a bye next week so it seems likely that Smith will return in two weeks.

The Panthers also cut WR Dwayne Jarrett on Tuesday after his second DUI arrest and signed David Clowney from the New York Jets’ practice squad. Clowney admitted he didn’t have a handle on the offense yet but he may start Sunday. Carolina also has three rookie receivers.

The Panthers finally got the running game going last week. DeAngelo Williams ran for 86 yards and his first touchdown of the season. The Bears, however, are ranked sixth in the league in run defense and, with rookie Jimmy Clausen at quarterback, you can expect them to dare the Panthers to throw the ball.

Even under offensive guru Mike Martz, the Bears’ offense has struggled. Matt Forte leads the team with just 134 yards rushing in the four games as Chicago ranks 31st in the NFL in rushing. The Bears are also in the middle of the pack throwing the ball, and don’t expect that to improve with Collins behind center.

Forte leads Chicago with 16 receptions - three for touchdowns - but Chicago has not run for a touchdown all season.

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Bank of America Stadium
Charlotte, North Carolina, USA.
Capacity: 73,778

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Last Injuries

Carolina Panthers

  • Stantley Thomas-Oliver III

    day-to-day | questionable

    Thomas-Oliver has sat out the previous two games with a hamstring injury, and it is unclear if he will play Week 3 versus the Chargers.

  • Dennis Daley

    day-to-day | questionable

    Daley has missed the past two games due to an ankle injury, and it is unclear if he will suit up against the Chargers in Week 3.

  • Yetur Gross-Matos

    day-to-day | questionable

    Gross-Matos was held out of the last game as he is going through the concussion protocol. It is uncertain if he will be cleared in time for Week 3 versus the Chargers.

  • Kawann Short

    day-to-day | questionable

    Short was absent from the lineup during the previous game with a foot injury, and it is undetermined if he will be available against the Chargers during Week 3.

  • Christian McCaffrey

    day-to-day | questionable

    McCaffrey departed the last game with a right ankle injury, and his status for Week 3 versus the Chargers is in question.

  • Donte Jackson

    Prob Sun | probable

    Jackson left the last game due to an ankle injury, but he is likely to play Sunday versus the Buccaneers.

  • Stephen Weatherly

    Ques Sun | questionable

    Weatherly is managing a hamstring injury, and it remains to be seen if he will take the field Sunday versus the Raiders.

  • Seth Roberts

    Prob Sun | probable

    Roberts is going through the league-mandated concussion protocol, but he is likely to be cleared in time for Sunday's matchup versus the Raiders.

Chicago Bears

  • Josh Woods

    day-to-day | questionable

    Woods sat out the last game due to a personal matter. It is unclear if he will be active Week 3 against the Falcons.

  • Jason Spriggs

    Prob Sun | probable

    Spriggs sat out the last game due to a knee injury, but he is projected to be in the lineup Sunday versus the Giants.

  • David Montgomery

    day-to-day | questionable

    Montgomery departed Sunday's game due to a neck injury, and it is unknown if he will return.

  • Khalil Mack

    Ques Sun | questionable

    Mack has a knee injury, and it is unclear if he will play Sunday versus the Giants.

  • Robert Quinn

    Prob Sun | probable

    Quinn missed the last game with an ankle injury, but it is expected that he will suit up against the Giants on Sunday.

  • Akiem Hicks

    Prob Sun | probable

    Hicks is ailing from an illness, but it is projected that the symptoms will subside in time for Sunday's matchup versus the Giants.

  • Cordarrelle Patterson

    Prob Sun | probable

    Patterson has a knee injury, but he is projected to play Sunday against the Lions.

  • Javon Wims

    Prob Sun | probable

    Wims is hobbled by an Achilles injury, but he is expected to take part in Sunday's contest versus the Lions.