An MRI on Erik Kramer's right shoulder shows tendinitis and a possible partial tear in his rotator cuff, but there are no plans for surgery right now.
The Chicago Bears are off this week, and trainer Tim Bream said Thursday that Kramer will be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs and rest. If the pain continues and his strength and range of motion don't improve, though, Bream said surgery will be considered.
"But again, I want to emphasize, the MRI was inconclusive. It showed there might be a partial tear. More than likely, it's tendinitis," Bream said. "We just have to treat him, see if the medicine works and see how the strengthening exercises go over the next week."
Kramer was at practice in sweats, still limping from the arthroscopic surgery he had on his left knee Monday to clean out bone chips and cartilage. Though Bream put Kramer's chances of playing in next weekend's game against St. Louis at 70-75 percent, Kramer said he hopes to be back practicing by midweek.
If the rotator cuff is torn, it could be damaged further by continuing to play. But Kramer, who spent the 1990 season on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, said he knows his body well enough to tell if he's risking anything.
"I think I know the difference, if something is going to keep getting worse and present some kind of serioudamage down the road," he said. "Right now, I've been able to work through it, so that's what my focus is on. If I've got to work through a little pain, it shouldn't hold me back too much."
Kramer, who has taken all of Chicago's snaps this season, injured his throwing shoulder when he was tackled during the Oct. 11 game against the Arizona Cardinals. He was already nursing a sore knee that started bothering him a week earlier.
Since then, the Bears (3-5) have won two consecutive games. Kramer is completing 60 percent of his passes, and his 83.1 quarterback rating is sixth best in the NFC.
If Kramer can't play, backup Steve Stenstrom will make his first NFL start. Stenstrom got extensive practice time before the season opener when Kramer was sidelined with turf toe, and he's been taking more snaps in recent weeks. But Stenstrom hasn't played since last Nov. 27, and he's completed just 11 passes for 107 yards in his career.
Coach Dave Wannstedt refused to talk about worst-case scenarios, repeating the MRI was inconclusive.
"Inconclusive to me means the glass is half-full," he said. "Everything has been optimistic, and no one's talking about surgery or not being able to play, so I don't want to overreact to a situation that we might not have to."
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