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NFL commentary: Bears' magic formula: Man plus machine

LAKE FOREST – Early last season, an ankle injury forced Matt Forte to the sideline.

That’s when he decided to do some research.

“I tried to see what’s the best way that you can get back on the field faster, and people were talking about the ARP [machine],” Forte said Thursday at Halas Hall. “So ‘Peanut’ let me use his ARP, and it works.”

No kidding.

The latest example is none other than Jay Cutler and his miracle groin.

Perhaps the word “miracle” is a bit strong. The ARP – which stands for Accelerated Recovery Performance– is pure science, the type that might make Bill Nye stand and applaud. The purpose of the machine is to stimulate one’s nervous system, which helps to speed up the healing process, which helps to secure NFC playoff berths.

OK, so I made up the last part.

But Cutler is back and better than ever, or at least better than 18 days ago, when he absorbed a sack and tore a muscle in his groin against the Washington Redskins. Back then, the official word from the Bears was that Cutler would miss “at least” 4 weeks, after which he would be evaluated on a week-to-week basis.

Go ahead and throw away the original timetable.

Ready or not, Cutler is on track to start Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions. Cutler participated fully in practice Thursday and said he felt no lingering effects from the injury, and coach Marc Trestman said the Bears would march full speed ahead with their No. 1 quarterback, now that doctors have cleared him to play.

Would it be wiser to stick with Josh McCown as the starter for an extra week, considering his effectiveness Monday against the Green Bay Packers?

Would it be wiser to let Cutler rest and recover for an extra week, considering that the Bears’ chances of playing in January are much better today than a week ago?

These questions are up for debate.

What’s certain is that the ARP seems to be A-OK.

“It’s pretty intense,” Cutler said. “It’s a high-intensity [stimulation] machine.

“That’s about all I know. Got me back.”

Yes, it did.

Which got me wondering: If this machine could mend torn muscles and help Cutler surpass all expectations for his return date, what could it do for me?

Sixth-year tight end Martellus Bennett stood in front of his locker after practice, chatting with a few reporters. I wandered over and asked Bennett whether he thought the ARP machine could turn me into a football player.

Bennett eyed me.

“The only person that can make you a football player right now is Jesus,” he said.

Clearly, Bennett had failed to recognize my brute strength and cheetah-like speed, but I decided not to press the issue. So I instead asked him whether he had used the machine in the past.

“The ARP?” Bennett said. “No, I’m like Wolverine. I just heal rapidly.

“I had it when I first got hurt, but I didn’t like it. It was weird, so I gave it back and I didn’t use it. You know, everybody’s different. Some people like Tylenol, some people like Aspirin. Whatever gets the job done, that’s what you need to do.”

Cutler did what he needed to do.

Now, the Bears will ask him to stimulate the Bears’ playoff chances.

“Last week, he was jogging around,” Forte said. “I was like, ‘You’re feeling pretty good, right?’ He was like, ‘Yeah, the ARP’s been working.’ He has taken the right steps to get back on the field, so I’m glad to have him back out there.”

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