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Jay Cutler: Bears offense needs to ‘get together’ despite lockout

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is brought down by Green Bay cornerback Charles Woodssecond quarter NFC Championship game between Chicago Bears

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is brought down by Green Bay cornerback Charles Woodson in the second quarter of the NFC Championship game between the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers Sunday January 23, 2011 at the Soldier Field. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: October 16, 2011 12:17AM

SANTA CLAUS, Ind. — Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has been busy this offseason, rehabbing his knee, traveling with a non-profit group to Kenya, getting engaged to his girlfriend and hosting a charity event for his foundation in his hometown Saturday.

Cutler told the Sun-Times about a month ago that he wasn’t concerned that the NFL’s player lockout would harm his team.

On Saturday, however, he told the Sun-Times that “now is the time for everyone to kind of get together and brush it off, and we’re going to do that here in the next couple of weeks.

“Everything is locked and loaded.”

Asked if those workouts would start this week, Cutler said, “Maybe.

“We’ll see. We’re about to do something here soon enough. But no one is probably going to know about it.”

Cutler said the workouts would be for offensive players only.

“I mean, those defenders have been in the system for eight years, nine years,” Cutler said. “What are they gonna do?

“What am I going to tell Lach?” Cutler said, referring to linebacker Brian Urlacher. “ ‘Your drop is a little short. Sorry, buddy.’ Offensively, we have a lot of room to improve.”

Cutler said that he’s excited to see his teammates and that his knee is “good to go.”

“It feels good,” he said.

As for the NFL draft, Cutler welcomed the addition of offensive tackle Gabe Carimi, the team’s first-round selection.

“I love it, anytime an offensive guy gets picked,” Cutler said. “To me, it’s like a new toy we get to play with, so it’s fun.”

Cutler had plenty of fun Saturday, reuniting with old friends and neighbors in Santa Claus. He and fiancée Kristin Cavallari arrived in his hometown for a full day of ­charity work.

In the morning, Cutler served as the grand marshal of the Holiday World Walk to Cure Diabetes. He signed every autograph request, including arms and shoes, and he posed for dozens of pictures with many of the 1,600-plus walkers. Then, he walked more than a mile through the park — mostly in pouring rain.

The event raised $342,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Cutler was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 21 years old.

“It was an honor to have Jay here, and it’s inspiring for the kids to see someone like him walk with the disease,” said John Chidester, the director of marketing for Holiday World Theme Park in Santa Claus.

In the evening, the Jay Cutler Foundation hosted a dinner for more than 200 people at Santa’s Lodge, featuring a live performance from Grammy-nominated country singer David Nail.

The town, with a population of 2,481, is small but famous because of its name. Its post office receives thousands of letters to Santa around Christmas. But Cutler and his foundation’s ­dinner had Santa Claus buzzing.

“This is a pretty big event for Santa Claus,” said Kate Kress, an elementary school teacher. “I teach third-graders, and my little boys are Jay Cutler crazy.”

Joining Cutler on Saturday night were his parents and sisters, including Jenna, who was one of the organizers, as well as his agent, Bus Cook, and teammates from Heritage Hills High School and Vanderbilt University.

None of his Bears teammates ­attended.

People had such a good time, the event ended about 90 minutes later than scheduled.

And Cutler was among the last to leave.

“I can’t remember the number of times people came up and said, ‘It was a great event. Hope you come back and do more of it,’ ” Cutler said. “It just reinforces to me how good these people are, and it makes me want to come back more and have some stuff here.”

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