Similarities exist between him and Denver's Jay Cutler
Rex Grossman's numbers are different since his return from exile. So is his demeanor.
"I see him a little more carefree," center Olin Kreutz said of the Chicago Bears quarterback. "Anybody who has gone through what he's gone through, being benched, you kind of get that attitude of, 'What else can they do to me?'
"Just go out and play."
Grossman, replaced by Brian Griese after starting the season 1-2, has numbers most quarterbacks would welcome over his past six quarters. He's gone 31-of-51 (60.8 percent) for 408 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions for a 92.6 passer rating. Chicago scored 37 points with only one turnover -- a Grossman fumble -- in that span.
It will be the Denver Broncos, including veteran safety John Lynch, who will have to deal with the improved version of Grossman on Sunday at Soldier Field.
``I think the scouting report is he's a talented football player, a quarterback who can get very hot if you allow him to," Lynch said on a conference call. "He throws the deep ball extremely well; he throws timing routes extremely well.
"And I think he had his best game of the year last week (at Seattle). So he's hot right now, so we've got to be ready for a hot quarterback.''
Hot, great. Grossman would be just as pleased to be called consistent.
"That's extremely important, and this week's no different," he said. "I want to maintain a level of performance that people can expect from me. That's my No. 1 goal in my career right row, and this week's another week to go out and just play at a high level and stay there and stay at a version of that for the rest of my career."
Broncos coach Mike Shanahan has watched Grossman's development, complete with the bumps, for a long time.
"I had a chance to watch him at Florida quite a bit and had a chance to be around him," he said. "I really like him both as a quarterback and as a person.
"In this business you can only get better. And Rex can learn the system and feel comfortable with defenses. It’s not an easy process. It’s the hardest position to play in sports."
Patience is required from a coaching staff. Just how much always is debatable.
"First of all you have to see, you have to get a feeling for the person," Shanahan said. "Is he a student of the game, how hard does he work, obviously does he have the skills, is he a competitor, does he have the supporting cast?
"There are so many questions that go into evaluating the quarterback, it does take some time."
Just as Grossman is being analyzed by Chicago's hierarchy, counterpart Jay Cutler is undergoing the same scrutiny by Broncos brass. Cutler is off to an impressive start, owning a passer rating of 88.7 after 15 career starts.
Grossman acknowledges the similarities in his and Cutler's careers, as both were first-round draft picks out of the Southeastern Conference.
First, though, do you know Cutler?
Have you ever been to Santa Claus? (Cutler's hometown in Indiana; Grossman is from Bloomington).
Ever talk to the guy?
Regardless, will this be the battle of Indiana school-boy quarterbacks?
"I hadn't thought of that," Grossman said. "I might've played against him at Vanderbilt. I'm not sure."
He did, as Cutler had 98 yards rushing that day in 2002.
"OK. Yeah, I remember we didn't play our best that day," Grossman said. "We ended up winning (21-17), but it was an ugly win, and I'm not sure if he was the starter or not, but apparently he was, so ...."
So they'll meet again. Different time. Different place. Different circumstances. Same goal -- to win.
Grossman can relate to Cutler trying to be the man in Denver.
"From watching his career at Vanderbilt, he's a very talented quarterback. And from what I've seen in the NFL, he's been able to progress ands make a lot of plays and do the same things that he did in the SEC," Grossman said.
"He's in a great organization, got great coaches around him and it seems like he's got good talent around him, so there's no reason why he can't just keep getting better and become a great quarterback in this league."
Bears head coach Lovie Smith sees the recent improvement in Grossman -- and hopes to keep seeing it.
"I think he's doing everything a little bit better," he said. "I guess you can say it helps to sit sometimes and analyze a game from afar. A lot of times when you get a second chance, you automatically play a little better, too.
"For all the reasons why, of course we like what he's done. The numbers are out there. He's throwing the ball extremely well. Hopefully, we can get some other pieces around him -- we're talking about the rest of our team -- to play the same way."
Reed Schreck is the NFL writer for the Rockford Register Star. Contact him at 815-987-1381 or email@example.com.