With Bears QB Jay Cutler listed as doubtful, Matt Barkley prepares for his first NFL start

With Bears QB Jay Cutler listed as doubtful, Matt Barkley prepares for his first NFL start
They need a victory in the final two games to avoid becoming the first team in franchise history to finish worse than 4-12 in a 16-game season. (Matt Ludtke / Associated Press)

With Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is listed as doubtful for Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans because of a shoulder injury, backup Matt Barkley is set to make his first NFL start.

Cutler suffered a right shoulder injury last Sunday against the New York Giants and has not practiced all week. Initial reports said Cutler could be done for the season, but Coach John Fox this week said it's not a season-ending injury.


Barkley has played for the Bears only after backup Brian Hoyer broke his left arm Oct. 19 at Green Bay and played in relief for Philadelphia in 2013 and 2014. He has completed 36 of 65 passes for 381 yards with no touchdowns and six interceptions.

"We obviously can see what he's comfortable with, the things that come easily to him," Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. "Some things will be a challenge. There will be some adjusting in the game, as it gets going, to see how he's seeing the defense.

"We really haven't seen him in this role in our offense as a starter with a full week of preparation, so there's always a little bit of uncertainty. But we're very confident that he's going to go out and perform well."

Barkley isn't sure what this start or any subsequent ones will mean regarding his future with the Bears, but said he'll simply draw on his past as a USC starter.

"Even high school, we were on nationally televised games and big crowds kind of through my whole life, big moments," Barkley said. "I've learned a lot from other quarterbacks in this league that I've been with who kind of had that same mentality, so that's helped."

The only Bears player officially out for Sunday's game is linebacker Leonard Floyd, who has not yet passed the NFL concussion protocol following a head/neck injury against the Giants.

NFL fines

Houston cornerback Johnathan Joseph has been fined $24,309 by the NFL for unnecessary roughness in the Texans' 27-20 loss to the Oakland Raiders in Mexico City last Monday night. Joseph was called for a penalty late in the third quarter after he tackled tight end Clive Walford, who made an 11-yard catch.

Giants defensive end Olivier Vernon was fined $18,231 on Friday for unnecessary roughness after he drove Cutler to the turf after a pass early in New York's 22-16 defeat of Chicago last Sunday. Minnesota defensive tackle Tom Johnson was also docked $18,231 for what the league deemed an illegal hit on Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer last Sunday. He was called for roughing the passer on the play late in the Vikings' 30-24 win.

Buffalo linebacker Jerry Hughes was fined $9,115 for attempting to head-butt a Cincinnati player. Washington safety Su'a Cravens must pay the same amount after grabbing the facemask of Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers.


Raiders cornerback David Amerson practiced for the first time this week and is expected to play Sunday against Carolina. Amerson is listed as questionable and is likely a game-time decision. …  Green Bay Packers inside linebacker Jake Ryan (ankle), the team's leading tackler, was able to practice Friday and appears likely to play in Monday night game at Philadelphia. … Chiefs wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (groin) will miss his third consecutive game when Kansas City visits Denver on Sunday night. Outside linebacker Dee Ford (hamstring) and defensive tackle Jaye Howard (hip) have also been ruled out. …

The Carolina Panthers have placed left tackle Michael Oher and cornerback Zack Sanchez on injured reserve. The team also waived backup tackle Donald Hawkins. Carolina added defensive end Ryan Delaire, cornerback Lou Young and offensive tackle David Yankey on Friday to the 53-man roster. In addition, linebacker Luke Kuechly (concussion), center Ryan Kalil (shoulder) and defensive end Mario Addison (foot) have been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Oakland Raiders. … Center Mike Pouncey (hip) has been ruled out of the Miami Dolphins' game Sunday against San Francisco. Left tackle Branden Albert (wrist) is doubtful and Laremy Tunsil (shoulder) is questionable. …

Tennessee Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan practiced fully and will start against the Chicago Bears on Sunday despite having a sprained left knee. Tight end Phillip Supernaw has been ruled out as he remains in the league's concussion protocol.  … New York Jets center Nick Mangold is questionable to play against the New England Patriots with a sprained right ankle that has sidelined him the last three games. Cornerbacks Nick Marshall (ankle) and Marcus Williams (ankle) have been ruled out. … The Minnesota Vikings have signed running back Bishop Sankey to their practice squad. The move came two days after he was released from Kansas City's active roster. He was on New England's practice squad earlier this season.