Justin Fields will not play Saturday: Chicago Bears training camp report for Aug. 17

Center Cody Whitehair leaves practice early with injury

WESTFIELD, Ind. – Bears quarterback Justin Fields will not play in Saturday’s preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts. Head coach Matt Eberflus announced the decision Thursday after a joint practice with the Colts just north of Indianapolis.

Eberflus noted that other “selected starters” will not play. Safety Eddie Jackson and receiver Velus Jones Jr. will not play. Neither player participated in practice Thursday. Eberflus said that the coaching staff was happy with the work Fields put in against the Colts during the two joint practices.

“We have a lot of great opportunities,” Eberflus said. “I talked to the backups just now and last night about the opportunity they have ahead of them getting all these reps. It’s going to be a great opportunity for those guys.”

Backup quarterback PJ Walker is likely to start Saturday.

Shaw Local will be keeping tabs on everything that happens at camp. Shaw Local Bears beat reporter Sean Hammond is in Indiana to follow along during this week’s joint practices with the Colts. Follow him on Twitter at @sean_hammond and on Instagram @bears_reporter. Follow Shaw Local Bears analyst Marc Silverman on Twitter at @WaddleandSilvy.

Practice notes: The Bears’ first-team offense struggled in team sessions against the Colts’ first-team defense Thursday. During one extended team session, Colts edge rusher Kwity Paye kicked things off by blowing past rookie right tackle Darnell Wright for a sack on the first play.

Later, with the pocket collapsing on the interior, Fields jumped and attempted to complete a pass to tight end Cole Kmet over the middle. There was heavy traffic in the way, and a tipped ball fell in the hands of Colts linebacker E.J. Speed. Fields did complete a couple of passes to Darnell Mooney and DJ Moore during the session.

Eberflus noted that Fields performed well in a 7-on-7 period, and he did. The QB threw a couple of touchdowns, including two on back-to-back plays to Mooney and Moore with Colts cornerback Kenny Moore in coverage.

Eberflus pinned the struggles in team sessions on everyone.

“Sometimes it’s a protection breakdown. It’s always everybody. It’s the other 10 guys that need to operate.”

—  Matt Eberflus, Bears head coach

“Sometimes it’s a protection breakdown,” Eberflus said. “It’s always everybody. It’s the other 10 guys that need to operate. Are we running the routes correctly? Are we protecting him the right way, giving him time?”

Pushing and shoving: The second day of joint practices, like the first, featured its share of pushing, shoving and shouting. The two teams ended a special teams session early when they were working on kickoff situations. One kickoff became a skirmish near midfield, and the coaches decided to move on to the next session.

Eberflus found himself right in the middle of that scrum, making sure both sides broke it up. As a former Colts assistant coach, he said he felt like he was in a good position to keep both sides calm.

“I mean, I’m OK doing that,” Eberflus said. “I’m never backing down from confrontation. That’s fine. Just need to get in there and get them back so it doesn’t escalate when you’re in there.”

Taking attendance: Jackson had a hard collision with Colts receiver Michael Pittman Jr. near the end of practice Wednesday. The former All-Pro safety needed a minute to get up off the grass and did not return to practice. A day later, Jackson was not seen at practice Thursday. Jones also was never seen along the sideline Thursday.

Additionally, safety Jaquan Brisker, receiver Chase Claypool, receiver Tyler Scott, running back Trestan Ebner, cornerback Josh Blackwell, linebacker DeMarquis Gates, linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and offensive lineman Lucas Patrick did not practice Thursday.

During practice, center Cody Whitehair left with an apparent injury before the team sessions even started. Second-year pro Doug Kramer spent the day playing center.

Transactions: The Bears waived linebacker Buddy Johnson and signed linebacker Davion Taylor on Thursday. Taylor appeared in 21 games for the Eagles in 2020 and 2021. He started seven games and totaled 51 combined tackles and two forced fumbles.

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.