Jay Cutler practicing on Thursday

AP

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said earlier this week that he’d need to practice before he’d have a handle on his chances on returning to action against the Cowboys on Monday night.

That return came on Thursday, the Bears’ first day of practice this week. Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune reports that Cutler was taking part in the portion of practice open to the media.

It’s the first time that he’s been back on the practice field since spraining his ankle on November 10 and, per Campbell, Josh McCown was the first quarterback up during drills on Thursday. McCown has played well while Cutler’s been on the bench, but the Bears have continued to struggle on defense while losing two of their last three to lose ground in the NFC playoff race.

There’s no word yet on how much Cutler practiced or what chances he has of playing on Monday night. If Cutler can play, the final four games will serve as both a chance to move back up the playoff ladder and an opportunity for Cutler to make a final statement before opening up talks about his next contract.