LAKE FOREST – Bears quarterback Justin Fields is expected to return to action against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at Soldier Field.
Fields returned to full participation in practice this week at Halas Hall in Lake Forest. He holds no injury designation on the injury report ahead of this week’s matchup with the Packers. Fields sat out last week’s game against the New York Jets after injuring his left shoulder on Nov. 20 against the Atlanta Falcons. Backup Trevor Siemian started in the loss to the Jets.
Bears head coach Matt Eberflus said it’s looking like “a green light” as long as Fields doesn’t suffer any setbacks between now and Sunday.
“It’s progress,” Eberflus said. “Mobility and strength. With the medical staff, they look at him. They look at the mobility and strength. He’s feeling more confident.”
The plan this week had been to see how Fields’ shoulder reacted throughout the week of practice. It appears that things have been progressing in the right direction.
“I just want to make sure that I can do everything I need to do to play a game,” Fields said this week. “I’ll know in practice.”
Prior to his injury, Fields had averaged 98.1 rushing yards per game in his previous seven games. He completed 63% of his passes with 11 touchdowns and four interceptions. The Bears went 1-6 in that seven-game stretch, but lost five one-possession games that could’ve gone either way.
It’s possible Fields could still be fighting through some pain. His injury was a separated shoulder that included some ligament damage. It’s lucky that the injury happened to his non-throwing arm or he likely wouldn’t be returning so soon.
Fields has never been afraid to play through pain. He played through broken ribs in the college national championship game when he was with Ohio State, and he played through a similar injury last year as a rookie.
“Whenever you show grit and toughness, you can show that in a lot of different ways,” Eberflus said. “Quarterbacks do that through really staying in the pocket, being tough in there and sometimes taking hits. He’s certainly done that. He’s shown grit and toughness throughout the whole year. His ability to come back this fast through injury and to go out there and play is a big boost for our offense.”
Siemian done for the season: Eberflus said that Siemian, the backup QB, will have season-ending surgery on his injured oblique. Siemian injured himself during warm ups prior to the Jets game. After some pregame confusion over who would start the game, Siemian played through the pain.
“He elected to do [the surgery],” Eberflus said. “He wants to, going forward, be able to zip the ball and that was a big part of it. Obviously, the oblique is a big part of throwing the pass.”
Siemian appeared in only two games this season, making his lone start last week. Practice squad quarterback Nathan Peterman, who has been with the team all season, will likely become the primary backup to Fields. The team also signed quarterback Tim Boyle off the Lions’ practice squad this week.
Injury report: Tackle Larry Borom (ankle/knee), safety Jaquan Brisker (concussion), cornerback Kyler Gordon (concussion) and Siemian (oblique) have been ruled out, according to the team’s injury report. Right tackle Riley Reiff (back) and cornerback Kindle Vildor (ankle) are questionable for Sunday’s game.
Eberflus is optimistic that Reiff will start at right tackle. Reiff exited last week’s game in the first quarter with what was then called a shoulder injury, but has since been characterized as a back injury.
“We feel good about it,” Eberflus said. “We really do. He’s been really resting and getting himself there. He was out there today and so we’ll see where it goes.”
With Borom, Reiff’s backup, already ruled out, it’s possible that Alex Leatherwood will serve as the backup tackle. Leatherwood, a former first-round pick, has yet to appear in a game this season.
[ Chicago Bears lineman Alex Leatherwood has used this season to ‘tune everything out and just focus on me’ ]