Nothing’s guaranteed, but it’s looking like Justin Fields will return after a one-week absence and quarterback the Bears against the Packers at Soldier Field on Sunday.
Fields (shoulder) was upgraded from a limited practice participant Wednesday to a full participant Thursday. He looked solid zipping passes to receivers during the 10-minute media viewing period, and he was still on the field after practice ended at approximately 2:45 p.m.
“He looked real good,” rookie WR Velus Jones Jr said. “We just got done putting in some extra work, but I’m excited for my guy. It’s a blessing each and every Sunday you play cause nothing’s guaranteed.
“I can’t wait to see my brother back out there.”
After the Bears practice Friday we will see if Fields carries any designation (questionable, doubtful, out) on the injury report.
The Bears lost 31-10 to the Jets last Sunday, with Trevor Siemian completing 14-of-25 passes for 179 yards. Siemian (oblique) was held out of practice a second straight day on Thursday. If Siemian is out Sunday, that means Nathan Peterman or Tim Boyle would face the Packers if Fields is unable to go.
No matter when Fields returns, he likely won’t be 100%. But that’s pretty much the case with everyone at this point.
“What is it, Week 12?” said Fields, who was actually short one week. “There’s (only) a few people in this league that are quote-unquote a hundred percent.
“So I’m just going to go out there and if I feel like I can help my team win ... and put points on the board, then I’m going to go out there and play.”
Fields learned quite a bit by watching Siemian run the offense against the Jets. He especially took note of the offense’s fifth play, when Siemian quickly went through his progressions and hit a wide-open Darrynton Evans. The running back proceeded to scamper 33 yards all the way to the Jets’ 9.
“That was one of my favorite plays of the game,” Fields said.
Said offensive coordinator Luke Getsy: “(Siemian’s) primary receiver got caught up. (He) didn’t wait until the second hitch to hold, hold, hold. (He) went one hitch, he wasn’t there and he got right down to his check-down and it turned into an explosive.
“So all those moments are important that (Fields) can gather from whoever’s playing.”
If Fields is in, we should keep an eye on:
• How much he uses his legs instead of his arm. Fields has 834 rushing yards, which is just 134 short of Bobby Douglass’ record for a Bears QB. One would think Getsy might hesitate a bit to call too many designed runs.
Still, the threat is always there and that will only help the offense.
“That run element is huge,” said TE Cole Kmet. “It brings our full running game into attack and you’re able to really use him in that sense. Then obviously his ability to create (on) drop-backs when he feels an opening.”
• Who Fields will lean on in the passing game now that Darnell Mooney is out for the season. Kmet (15 catches, 177 yards, 4 TDs the last four weeks) would seem to be a no-brainer. Chase Claypool and Byron Pringle also ought to see an increased role.
N’Keal Harry had the best practice of the season Thursday, according to WR coach Tyke Tolbert. Dante Pettis (illness) missed a second straight day of practice, putting his status in doubt.
“I’m excited to build that connection more with other receivers on the team,” Fields said. “It’s going to be fun finding out what different guys can do, because in our offense we usually game plan on certain routes what Darnell could do.”
If Fields regresses and Siemian remains out, the Bears would likely call upon Nathan Peterman. A fifth-round pick by Buffalo in 2017, Peterman started two games for the Bills in 2018.
Incredibly, one was against the Bears at Soldier Field. He went 31 for 49 for 188 yards with three interceptions in a 41-9 loss. Leonard Floyd returned one of the INTs 19 yards for a TD to give the Bears a 21-0 lead.
He’s thrown just five passes since.