LAKE FOREST – Bears quarterback Justin Fields will sit out the season finale Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field. Head coach Matt Eberflus announced Wednesday that backup quarterback Nathan Peterman will start the game.
Fields injured his hip in last weekend’s loss to the Detroit Lions. He received medical attention on the sideline between drives but played the remainder of the game.
Eberflus said that Fields’ hip remained sore when he returned to Halas Hall on Monday. Fields had an MRI, which revealed a hip strain. Eberflus said that the injury is not a long-term concern.
Nathan Peterman is the Bears starting QB this week. pic.twitter.com/fi7pBgMorr— Sean Hammond (@sean_hammond) January 4, 2023
Peterman, 28, has started four games in his NFL career. His most recent start came in November 2018 as a member of the Buffalo Bills. He started against the Bears and threw three interceptions in the game.
Fields will end his season 63 yards shy of Lamar Jackson’s 2019 quarterback rushing record. Fields will finish the year with 1,143 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on 160 carries. As a passer, he has thrown for 2,242 yards with 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 15 games.
Eberflus faced questions after the Lions game about whether he should have sat Fields in the fourth quarter when the score was out of hand. At the time, Eberflus said that live game reps were too valuable to pass up.
On Wednesday, Eberflus said that if the Bears were in a playoff game this week, Fields’ status this week would be in doubt.
“Yes, it would be the same,” Eberflus said. “Like I said, it’s not long term. He’s just not able to go full speed. I asked him how it was today, and he said it’s still real sore.”
Sunday’s game could have serious draft position implications. With a Bears loss and a Houston Texans win against the Indianapolis Colts this weekend, the Bears would earn the No. 1 overall draft pick this spring. If the Bears were to beat the Vikings, they could wind up as low as the No. 4 overall pick if Denver and Arizona both lose.
The Vikings don’t have a ton to play for either. They no longer are in play for the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC. They most likely are locked in at the No. 3 seed in the NFC. They would, however, secure the No. 2 seed if they win and the 49ers lose to the Cardinals.
Asked about his team potentially being seen as tanking for the No. 1 pick, Eberflus reiterated that the medical staff has not cleared Fields to play.
So the Bears will pivot to Peterman, who has started four games in his career, but hasn’t started a game in four years. Peterman has been buried on the bench all season behind Fields and backup quarterback Trevor Siemian. Peterman almost had to start Nov. 27 against the New York Jets when Siemian injured his oblique in pregame warmups. Siemian wound up gutting through the pain.
Peterman has played six snaps this season, completing three passes and throwing an interception against the Buffalo Bills on Dec. 24.
“It’s an awesome opportunity,” Peterman said Wednesday. “It’s been a few years. Still have gotten to play a lot of football in preseason or whatnot, but obviously a regular-season game is an amazing opportunity, and I’m looking forward to it. It’s been a lot of hard work put into this season and a lot of ups and downs, obviously, but to go out on a great note, have some fun and just go out and play football is going to be a good thing.”