Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has been cleared to return to practice and will take the field for the first time Thursday since he was knocked out of the Nov. 11 loss to the Houston Texans with a concussion.

Cutler will need to prove he can practice and remain asymptomatic and ultimately get clearance from an independent neurologist before returning to play Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field.

“God, I hope so,” offensive coordinator Mike Tice said when asked if Cutler will play. “I do. I really do. Not anything against Jason (Campbell). Jason did a remarkable job based on the opportunities he was afforded. We gotta get our guy back.”

This is the second time in three seasons Cutler has missed action because of a concussion. He was injured when Texans middle linebacker Tim Dobbins hit him illegally.

“I think everyone’s perspective has changed because there is just more awareness, more out there, more information,” Cutler said. “It’s not going to change the way I play football. It’s not going to change my desire to return to the field by any means.

“You trust the doctors and our training staff that we’re going to make the right decision for my health, not only in the near future but in my lifetime going forward.”

When he returns, Cutler will have to help sort out problems for the NFL’s 30th-ranked offense with the Bears (7-3) in the thick of the NFC North race.

“There are a lot of reasons,” Cutler said. “I don’t think pointing them out or talking about them is going to do any good. We just have to collectively get better as a whole and try to get this thing fixed.”

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune