The Chicago Bears insisted all along that quarterback Jay Cutler would get his job back once he was ready, no matter how well Josh McCown was playing.
On Thursday, they stuck to their word.
Coach Marc Trestman said Cutler will start Sunday at Cleveland after missing four games because of a high left ankle sprain.
McCown goes back to a reserve role after excelling.
"I don't think that risk was part of this decision," Trestman said. "This decision was made a long time ago. That was that when Jay was ready to play, that he would play. That's how we planned to do it, so I don't look at it like that. I look at it, Jay's our quarterback, and when he was ready to play, he was going to play, and that's the same words I used a month ago and there's no change today."
Cutler worked with the receivers following Wednesday's walkthrough. Trestman said there was no swelling or any "residual issues" from that, and he was a full participant in Thursday's practice.
When healthy, Cutler has played as well as he has since he arrived from Denver before the 2009 season. He has thrown for just over 1,900 yards, and his 88.4 rating is his highest as a Bear.
McCown has also excelled in Trestman's system, and there were at least some calls to stay with the hot hand.
McCown has thrown for more than 1,800 yards and completed nearly 67 percent of his passes in seven appearances. He has 13 touchdowns and just one interception.
Around the league
Cardinals • Rookie safety Tyrann Mathieu will have surgery Friday to repair torn ligaments in his left knee. Mathieu tore his ACL and LCS when he was hit while returning a free kick following a safety.
Rams • Rookie receiver Tavon Austin sat out his second straight practice with an injured left ankle, and his availability for Sunday's game vs. New Orleans is in question. Week 15 schedule
San Diego 27, Denver 20
Philadelphia at Minnesota, 11 a.m.
Washington at Atlanta, 11 a.m.
San Francisco at Tampa Bay, 11 a.m., Ch. 13
Seattle at N.Y. Giants, 11 a.m.
Chicago at Cleveland, 11 a.m.
Houston at Indianapolis, 11 a.m.
Buffalo at Jacksonville, 11 a.m.
New England at Miami, 11 a.m.
Kansas City at Oakland, 2:05 p.m., Ch. 2
N.Y. Jets at Carolina, 2:05 p.m.
Arizona at Tennessee, 2:25 p.m.
New Orleans at St. Louis, 2:25 p.m.
Green Bay at Dallas, 2:25 p.m., Ch. 13
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh, 6:30 p.m., Ch. 5
Baltimore at Detroit, 6:40 p.m., ESPN