By Brad Biggs, Chicago Tribune reporter
11:58 PM EDT, October 10, 2012
The Bears hit their weekend off feeling good about themselves in a tie atop the NFC North and general manager Phil Emery left no room for interpretation — he really likes his quarterback.
Speaking to assembled media for the first time since the start of training camp, Emery discussed highly scrutinized sideline issues Jay Cutler had with left tackle J'Marcus Webb and offensive coordinator Mike Tice. Emery spoke on familial terms, saying Cutler "does care and love his teammates and he is a big part of what we're doing and the positive things we are doing."
Like coach Lovie Smith, Cutler has a contract running through 2013 and the coming offseason will be a natural point for his status to be considered.
"I am a Jay Cutler fan," Emery said. "I believe in what he is doing as a quarterback. If you look at the simple things, the 9-1 in the last 10 games, 22-10 over the last three years, those stats say something, that we have a winner at a key position for our franchise. I said early in the year that I felt Jay was a franchise-level quarterback. I will continue to say that."
Emery compared the sideline issues to "dust-ups" that happen on occasion in a family setting.
"I know some people are going to say, 'Well, that's a cliche.' It's not really. A team is very much a family," Emery said. "The analogies are very much the same and families are something everyone can relate to. The important thing … is that at the end of the day are we all going in the same direction in a positive way? … Are we allowing each other to move toward excellence? Are we there to help one another? … In each one of those ways when I look at Jay Cutler, the answer is yes. He's a passionate player."
Weekly honor: Only one could be selected and and the honor of NFC Defensive Player of the Week went to cornerback Charles Tillman after his 36-yard interception return for a touchdown in a 41-3 victory over the Jaguars set the club record for defensive scores in a career. Both Tillman and weak-side linebacker Lance Briggs have a return touchdown in each of the last two games.
Tough stuff: Special teams coordinator Dave Toub left no doubt linebacker Blake Costanzo would be available for the Lions game Oct. 22 only two weeks after surgery on his hand.
"He played with a snapped ligament two games," Toub said. "This guy is an animal. There is no question he will be ready for Detroit."
Extra points: Healthy veterans rested in what was about a 60-minute practice Wednesday included Cutler, wide receiver Brandon Marshall, defensive end Julius Peppers and center Roberto Garza. … Players are off until Monday and coaches will work Thursday before being free for the long weekend. … Lovie Smith is 5-3 in the game following the off week and 5-1 in the last six seasons. … Emery said he is getting out on the road scouting in preparation for the 2013 draft, something he said he wanted to continue from his days as a college scouting director and area scout. He was at the LSU-Florida game Saturday in Gainesville before the Bears' game in Jacksonville.
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