Bears quarterback Justin Fields has not been cleared to play in Chicago’s “Thursday Night Football” clash with the Carolina Panthers, and rookie Tyson Bagent will start, coach Matt Eberflus said Wednesday. Here’s what you need to know:
- Eberflus’ announcement came after the team listed Fields as doubtful on its injury report.
- Fields hasn’t played since he dislocated his thumb in Week 6 against the Minnesota Vikings.
- Bagent, an undrafted rookie out of Shepherd University, has started Chicago’s last three games. The Bears have gone 1-2 during that stretch.
What Eberflus said
Eberflus said that while Fields is not medically cleared, “he’s getting better.”
“(His) accuracy’s improving. He’s throwing it better. And he’s starting to do more and more and more,” Eberflus said. “So we’ll see it where it goes. Right now, we’re listing him as doubtful. And we’ll see where it goes from there.
“It’s really about him feeling good about it and the medical staff saying that he can go in there and function, and he’s just not there at this time.”
Fields isn’t rushing his return
If this were a typical week with a Sunday game, it’s possible that Fields would be ready to play. Eberflus suggested as much. But it’s not. It’s a short week after a tough loss in New Orleans to the Saints. The Bears held only walk-through practices at Halas Hall this week.
Fields has plenty to play for in the final seven games. After this season, the Bears will decide whether to exercise his fifth-year option. But Fields shouldn’t rush his return, regardless of how much he wants to play. He needs to be fully healthy for that final run. He’s recovering from a dislocated thumb on his throwing hand. It’s different from other injuries he’s had as the Bears’ starter. — Adam Jahns, Bears staff writer
What to expect from Bagent
The good news for the Bears is Bagent knows what he’s doing, and the offense has looked good with him at the helm — at least for the first three quarters of games, before he has to go off-script when chasing a deficit. Being at home against a Carolina defense that is solid but not spectacular should also help Bagent, who is coming off back-to-back road games against defenses with good pass rushers.
If the Bears can get the run game going against a Panthers defense giving up 4.43 yards per carry, that will help Bagent, too. He’s shown good awareness in the pocket and is getting the ball out on time and on target. We’ll see if he can get his second win Thursday. — Kevin Fishbain, Bears staff writer
The Bears are 2-7 and coming off Sunday’s 24-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints, where Bagent went 18-of-30 passing for 220 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions.
Before getting injured, Fields recorded 1,201 yards with 11 touchdowns and three interceptions. The 24-year-old remained limited in practice this week and is considered day to day with his thumb injury.
(Photo: Jamie Sabau / USA Today)