Jay Cutler optimistic at start of Bears' 3-day, voluntary minicamp

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LAKE FOREST, Illinois — Jay Cutler's uncertainty about the offseason had faded away by the start of Chicago Bears' three-day, voluntary minicamp at Halas Hall.

Instead, it was new coach John Fox and general manager Ryan Pace who faced some uncertainty with a handful of veteran players missing the first chance for players to pick up the new offense and defense.

"Unfortunately, we've had it a few times here, so I think the guys that have been here, it's the same thing. They know how to deal with it," Cutler said about the transition to a new coaching staff and GM.

As for Cutler?

"Same thing, I know how to deal with it," the quarterback said.

After Cutler committed an NFL-high 24 turnovers, he had to wait until March before Pace and Fox announced he would be their quarterback going forward, and then he had to deal with countless trade rumors to several teams, most notably the Tennessee Titans. Yet he was throwing Tuesday in a new offense under coordinator Adam Gase and working with new quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains and enjoying it.

"You never know how it's going to go, especially with a new GM, new coaches, a whole new different philosophy maybe; a whole different way that they want players to play," Cutler said. "Who knows? You never know what's going to happen. All the interaction I've had has been positive."

Cutler said the weeks of uncertainty didn't bother him simply because it's just business in the NFL.

"I think every year you've got to figure a way to get better and improve," Cutler said. "Every year you're going to get at least six or seven new guys. It's just a matter of time before someone's going to replace you. Each year is an audition."

Cutler said he'll be watching the draft this week with interest, but for now it seems the Bears are forging ahead with him calling signals. He sees a different attitude among players now than when they went 5-11 in Marc Trestman's second and final season, and welcomes it.

"I think everyone was missing confidence (last year) when you're dropping games the way we did," Cutler said. "It gets tough. Things went south, I feel like, in a hurry, but that's part of the stuff that is behind us now and we're moving forward."

Cutler is working with his fifth offensive coordinator in Chicago and third head coach.

"I really have a lot of respect for Adam and the staff he put together," Cutler said. "Fox has a reputation. He knows how to win. They have a blueprint."

Apparently it's a blueprint that includes Cutler, and it also includes running back Matt Forte, tight end Martellus Bennett and defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff even if they are missing the practices.

In fact, Forte missed the presentation for Tuesday's Brian Piccolo veteran award that he won. Instead, a statement by him was read. Forte is in the final year of his contract and there has been speculation he wants the deal extended.

"If the Bears want to give me a contract extension they will," Forte said in a statement. "If they don't, they won't. I'm not mad or holding a grudge. I don't operate like that. I'm not there because I'm finishing my third week of rigorous speed training in which we do not do at Halas Hall.

"This was already my plan as of seasons end last year because after evaluating myself (which all players should do) I felt I was missing something. As for missing voluntary minicamp. There is OTA's (phase 2) and mandatory minicamp (in June) in which I will be present for."

Bennett is working out on his own, as well.

Fox said he can deal with the absences for now.

"They miss the installation (of the offense and defense), they miss the mental time, they miss the on-the-field work," Fox said. "So we have a next-man-up approach here, so guys will get opportunities. When one door closes, another door opens for somebody else."

Fox said he realized it's voluntary.

"I prefer (Forte) be here just like any other player, but I understand this is the offseason and when guys have got things they have to take care of, major commitment that they made, this is the time to do it," Fox said.

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