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With Cutler out, Bears turn to Clausen


Sunday marked the first time in Jimmy Clausen's two seasons with the Bears that he had to enter a game after starter Jay Cutler exited with an injury.

"It's pretty tough, but that's my job," Clausen said. "As a backup quarterback you've got to be ready when your name is called and the starter goes down. That's the nature of the job."

Cutler was forced out of Sunday's 48-23 loss to the Cardinals with 2:59 left in the second quarter after he suffered a hamstring injury while trying to make a tackle on Tony Jefferson's 26-yard interception return touchdown.

Clausen completed 14 of 23 passes in relief, throwing for 121 yards with no touchdowns, one interception and a 56.6 passer rating. After Cutler exited, the Bears did not get in the end zone, failed to pick up a first down on six of nine possessions and were outscored 20-9.

Asked if the Bears' morale suffered when Cutler left the game, coach John Fox said: "Not really. It's a next-man-up mentality. We ask different guys to rotate in and play. Obviously, Jimmy not getting as many reps as the starter this week was a little bit problematic. But all-in-all, he stepped in and gave us a chance. We had a lot of opportunities later in the game."

In his first season with the Bears last year, Clausen played sparingly late in three blowout losses before earning his first NFL start since 2010 when Cutler was benched.

In a 20-14 loss to the Lions last Dec. 21, Clausen completed 23 of 39 passes for 181 yards with two touchdowns, one interception and a 77.0 passer rating. But he suffered a concussion that prevented him from starting the season finale the following week.

"Jimmy is a guy we have the utmost confidence in," right tackle Kyle Long said following Sunday's loss to the Cardinals. "He came in against Detroit last year and played his butt off and competes. He's a guy who's as prepared as anybody in this offense."

Clausen acknowledged that it isn't easy switching quarterbacks midway through a game.

"The biggest thing is not getting reps with the ones and a little different tone of voice being out there with those guys and changing up the snap count," Clausen said. "There's no excuse for it. Just have to keep practicing. That's the reason you practice. You just have to go out and execute."

If Cutler is unable to play next Sunday in Seattle, Clausen vowed that he will be ready.

"I feel good with the offense," Clausen said. "I feel good where we're at. We just have to watch the tape, clean up the things we did wrong and keep getting better on the things we did right. Just move past this game and get ready for Seattle."

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