LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman deferred on announcing a starting quarterback for Sunday's game at Cleveland.
Trestman said Wednesday that Jay Cutler's availability to play against the Browns would be determined by how he handles a late afternoon workout and his ability to avoid further problems with a sprained ankle. If Cutler is deemed healthy, Trestman indicated that he will return to the starting lineup in place of Josh McCown.
"He's been cleared from a standpoint of allowing us to work him out at full speed, and allowing him to make a decision and us to make a decision based on how he works out and how he feels after he works out," Tresman said.
Cutler suffered a high ankle sprain on Nov. 10 against the Detroit Lions during a game in which he was coming back from a muscle tear.
The Bears are 2-2 in McCown's four consecutive starts while Cutler has been out. McCown also won a start earlier in the season at Green Bay when Cutler had a torn groin muscle.
Trestman said he is optimistic about Cutler's return.
"But I've got to leave it open because we're working him out (Wednesday) and so I feel like ... (if) he feels good, I anticipate that we'll be moving forward tomorrow," Trestman said.
McCown has a passer rating of 109.8 that ranks third in the NFL behind Philadelphia's Nick Foles and Denver's Peyton Manning. He has 13 touchdown passes and one interception compared with 13 touchdown passes and eight interceptions for Cutler, who has an 88.4 rating.
McCown, named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week after he completed 27 of 36 passes for 348 yards and four touchdowns on Monday night against the Dallas Cowboys, has looked impressive enough to create somewhat of a quarterback controversy.
Former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher believes Trestman should stick with McCown because the offense has played well under his leadership.
"It's going to be awfully hard to take Josh out of there right now the way he's playing," Urlacher said. "In my opinion, (McCown] should be the guy. He should be the starting quarterback of the Bears, even if Jay Cutler is healthy. You can't take a guy who's this hot out of the football game. If I was on that team, I would have a hard time with them taking him out."
The Bears did not practice on Wednesday because of the Monday night game. They return to the practice field on Thursday and hope to have Cutler under center.
"We don't have to make a decision (Wednesday), so we're not going to. But (Thursday) we will, because we have to," Trestman said.
Cutler practiced on a limited basis twice last week.
"We saw it last week, but, again, he's been off for three or four days now, so we want to see him do it again and make sure that he feels good and we feel good," Trestman said.
McCown said Tuesday during an interview on ESPN 1000 in Chicago that he recognizes his role.
"I understand that Jay's the starter, and he does too, and our team does and we're building this thing around him," McCown said. "More importantly, for everybody, it's not just Josh and Jay, let's just be for the Bears and for the Bears playing good football and winning football. That's the thing that matters the most, no matter who's in at quarterback. That's all I care about."
The Bears are less optimistic about linebacker Lance Briggs returning. He has been out since Oct. 20 with a shoulder injury.
"I didn't see enough from Lance last week," Trestman said. "All he did was run, so we'll see where the trainers and the doctors want him to be tomorrow.
"I'm not in any way as optimistic about Lance as I would be about Jay at this time because I've seen Jay move around and do the things that he did last week."