Jay Cutler returns to practice

Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith was optimistic about a quick return for Jay Cutler after he was pulled Sunday night at halftime with a concussion, an injury suffered on the last of the NFL record nine sacks he suffered in the first half against the New York Giants.

His optimism proved to be well founded as Cutler is participating in practice now at Halas Hall in Lake Forest, Ill. That means Cutler passed an exam by a team doctor and an independent neurologist.

The Bears (3-1) play at Carolina (0-4) on Sunday and are hoping to rebound after a miserable offensive effort in which they totaled just 110 yards offense.

Left tackle Chris Williams, who has missed the last two weeks with a pulled right hamstring, remains sidelined. He was doing work on the side with a trainer. Unless Williams can return to practice Thursday, he’ll be a longshot to face the Panthers.

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