The status of Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler going into the weekend remains uncertain because of a concussion, although coach Lovie Smith said Friday he is optimistic about Cutler's return.
Cutler, who missed Monday night's 32-7 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, is listed as questionable against the Minnesota Vikings. Whether he plays in Sunday's game at Soldier Field hinges on passing a test from an independent neurologist Saturday.
It's possible Cutler's injury report status could change before the game.
"He's looking better," Smith said of Cutler after Friday's practice. "The last phase of his evaluation will be tomorrow and then we'll be able to let you know from there."
Cutler on Friday went through a second straight limited practice session. He hasn't had a full practice yet this week. Backup Jason Campbell, who is suffering from a rib injury, went through his first full practice Friday.
Cutler's play impressed his teammates.
"He looked good," running back Matt Forte said. "He should play, I think."
Regardless of which quarterback plays, he'll be protected by a completely revamped offensive line. The Bears gave up six sacks against San Francisco, including 5½ to defensive end Aldon Smith, and it led to second-year right tackle Gabe Carimi getting benched. He'll be replaced by Jonathan Scott, who played previously for Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and Detroit.
The Bears spent a first-round draft pick in 2011 on Carimi, and last week's game was his 12th NFL start. He suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 2 last year, and had two surgeries. He had said before the season that the knee wasn't 100 percent, while offensive coordinator Mike Tice has said Carimi simply gets too aggressive and gets off balance when blocking.
"I just messed up on a couple plays here and there," Carimi said. "I played good ball. I am just inconsistent right now. Be it the knee or be it aggression, who knows what it is sometimes? But I know I will come back from this."
Left guard Chris Spencer, who started the first two games this year, will be back in that spot as Chilo Rachal has been put on the reserve/non-football injury list. Rachal left the team after being informed Wednesday that he was being benched.
"It's another thing we deal with it," Smith said about Rachal leaving the team. "But we have other options. Team-wise, you have to look at it as an injury. Guys go down and it's always about the next guy stepping up and that's where we are."
Rookie tackle-guard James Brown has been promoted from the practice squad to take Rachal's spot on the 53-man roster.