LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Brian Hoyer is preparing to start at quarterback for the Chicago Bears against the Dallas Cowboys.
Jay Cutler missed practice Wednesday with the sprained right thumb he suffered Monday night.
Although the team isn’t saying Cutler is out for Sunday night’s game, Hoyer is taking all the snaps in practice with the first team.
Then again, Hoyer said he’d prepare as if he’s a starter regardless of Cutler’s situation.
“I prepare every week like I’m going to play,” Hoyer said. “If you take one day off, you take one rep off mentally and then that’s the play that gets called in the game, I mean, that’s when you’re going to slip off.”
Cutler joined a long list of players injured in Monday night’s loss who are missing practice.
Inside linebacker Danny Trevathan underwent thumb surgery and likely will miss the game, while coach John Fox confirmed linebacker Lamarr Houston suffered an ACL tear. Houston is done for the season.
Also missing practice Wednesday were nose tackle Eddie Goldman (ankle), running back Ka’Deem Carey (hamstring), safety Adrian Amos (concussion), cornerback Bryce Callahan (concussion) and safety Chris Prosinski (calf).
Hoyer completed 224 of 369 attempts for 2,606 yards with 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions last season.
Against the Eagles, Hoyer completed 9 of 12 for 78 yards in relief of Cutler after the injury. It was his first action as a Bear since the preseason finale, and he said he can benefit from that time.
“I think just getting a chance to play again — it had been a while since I had played in a live game,” he said. “So at least you can get some of that to take in if I do have to play, and just getting out there and seeing a real defense come at you.
“It’s different than when you’re doing the scout team during the week.”
For Hoyer, there will be adjustments.
One is getting used to taking snaps from center Cody Whitehair. Hoyer practiced with Whitehair on the second team in training camp prior to a season-ending injury suffered by starting center Hroniss Grasu in the preseason.
One adjustment will be getting to play with wide receiver Alshon Jeffery.
“Yeah, not there yet, because really these are the first reps that I’ve taken with Alshon, whether it’s one-on-ones, anything, really,” Hoyer said. “He’s been solely with Jay.
“So the thing that I’ve noticed from watching those two work is you just put it in the guy’s vicinity. His range of motion is so big, he’s a big body guy who uses his strength. So I’ve been able to watch that and now I get a chance to go out and do it.”
It’s possible the Bears will run more now with Hoyer playing instead of Cutler, although Fox said he’d like to rely on the run regardless.
“I think any quarterback, I don’t care what status they are, will tell you the running game is one of their best friends,” Fox said. “No matter who your quarterback is, if you’re dropping back and throwing it 45 or 50 times, it’s usually not a great result.
“Regardless of the quarterback, we do emphasize the run game.”
Fox said the Bears have run the ball effectively with Cutler, but have had to turn away from it when falling behind.
“In fact, per carry, really our stats aren’t bad,” Fox said. “We just haven’t been in situations in the first two ballgames that have allowed us to run it in the second half as much as we’d like.”
The Bears will be trying to avoid a second straight 0-3 start under Fox.
Hoyer had experience with a slow start last season, when he helped lead Houston into the playoffs. The Bears are his fifth NFL team in eight seasons.
“I was on a team that 0-2 last year, too,” Hoyer said. “At one point, we were 2-5 and we made the playoffs. I think a lot is made early on, trying to get things together.
“But it’s a long season. That’s the biggest thing to stress.”