Chicago Bears name QB Justin Fields 1 of 4 team captains

Fields, Smith, Whitehair, Quinn named permanent team captains

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields scrambles against the Cleveland Browns during the first half, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022, in Cleveland.

LAKE FOREST – Justin Fields’ teammates noticed the work he put in this offseason. The Bears voted Fields one of four team captains ahead of the 2022 regular season, head coach Matt Eberflus announced Wednesday.

Fields, linebacker Roquan Smith, left guard Cody Whitehair and defensive end Robert Quinn are the team’s four permanent captains. The Bears also will have one honorary captain each week of the season. For Week 1, running back David Montgomery is the honorary captain.

The 23-year-old Fields has taken ownership of this Bears offense. A year ago, he was buried on the depth chart behind Andy Dalton. This year, there’s no question who the Bears’ starting quarterback is. Fields has taken it upon himself to make sure everyone on the offense is where he needs to be.

His teammates see that.

“[I’m] just making sure our culture stays the way it is, leading the team in whichever way possible, on and off the field,” Fields said. “Those are the main qualities to be a leader. Coach says you got to lead yourself first. I’m going to lead myself first and also lead the guys behind me.”

Under former coach Matt Nagy, the Bears had different captains for each game. Eberflus said it’s important that his team have permanent captains because it’s a function of good leadership.

“We took a team vote on this,” Eberflus said. “And that was exactly how it came out. And so that says a lot about those guys and what their peers think of them. It’s a job that really just, you really just got to focus on doing what you do best and playing great football at your position. You’ll lead when it’s called upon.”

Center or guard? Bears veteran offensive lineman Lucas Patrick spoke for the first time since injuring his hand in late July. Patrick has been back at practice this week. It’s unclear how the Bears will work him back into the lineup. They brought him to Chicago as a free agent with the intention of playing him at center. He will, however, now be forced to play wth a brace on his right hand, his snapping hand.

It’s possible the Bears could shift him to right guard, which would force Teven Jenkins to the bench. Patrick said Wednesday he has played with a cast on his hand before but has never done it while playing center.

“Well, it’s definitely different,” Patrick said. “Imagine something on your hand. It’s not that big of a deal. We’ll just cross these bridges as they come.”

Eberflus said it will all depend on how the injury responds this week during practice. Patrick believes his hand is “super functional” right now. But functioning properly at guard is different from functioning properly at center, where his hand is on the football.

“I’ve still got to win my hand placement,” Patrick said. “I’ve still got to keep leverage. It doesn’t – if it’s center, guard or tackle or tight end – like all the blocking up front, you’re teaching hands inside and stay low. So pretty similar.”

A fresh look: Ahead of Sunday’s season opener against the 49ers, the grass at Soldier Field has been resodded, and the stadium has switched from Kentucky bluegrass to Bermuda grass.

“This has been planned for quite some time,” Eberflus said. “We feel it’s going to be a nice surface. I think it’s going to be a fast surface.”

Eberflus has some familiarity with Bermuda-based grass. When he was the defensive coordinator with the Indianapolis Colts, the Colts used a similar grass at their practice facility. It should hold up better when the cold weather arrives.

The surface at Soldier Field caught a lot of attention at the Bears’ only preseason home game Aug. 13. The grass was beat up after the stadium hosted several concerts this summer. The turf was so bad that it drew condemnation from the president of the NFL Players Association on social media.

So it’s a welcomed change for the players. Tight end Cole Kmet said he would typically bring a handful off different length cleats to Soldier Field on game day, then adjust based on the field conditions and weather.

“Maybe I can stick to one pair,” Kmet joked Wednesday at Halas Hall.

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for the Shaw Local News Network. He has covered the Bears since 2020. Prior to writing about the Bears, he covered high school sports for the Northwest Herald and contributed to Friday Night Drive. Sean joined Shaw Media in 2016.