Justin Fields Hits Major Rehab Milestone After Thumb Injury

Justin Fields, Bears

Getty Quarterback Justin Fields of the Chicago Bears.

This season hasn’t delivered much good news for the Chicago Bears, but the franchise finally got some on Friday.

Courtney Cronin of ESPN reported on November 3 that quarterback Justin Fields returned to practice for the first time since dislocating the thumb on his throwing hand 19 days ago. Just because he’s back on the field, however, doesn’t mean Fields is back in the starting lineup.

“Good to see him back at practice. He’s progressing day to day now, so it’s good to see and take that next step in that progression,” head coach Matt Eberflus told reporters. “He’s doubtful for the game, which is 51% out. But we’ll see where it progresses through this weekend and onto the start of next week as well.”

Tyson Bagent Set to Start for Bears Against Saints in Week 9

Tyson Bagent, Bears

GettyQuarterback Tyson Bagent of the Chicago Bears is set to start against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, November 5, 2023.

The Bears listed Fields as doubtful for this weekend’s contest against the New Orleans Saints, per the team’s official injury report. Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun Times noted on X Friday that in Eberflus’ entire tenure as the Bears head coach, the franchise has never allowed a player into a game after listing that player’s status as doubtful two days prior.

As such, Chicago figures to run undrafted rookie Tyson Bagent out for his third consecutive start, and fourth straight appearance, this Sunday in New Orleans.

The 23-year-old quarterback, who was squaring off against D-II opponents in the heart of West Virginia just one year ago, has played adequately in his role as a game manager for the Bears. Bagent is 1-1 as a starter, defeating the Las Vegas Raiders at Soldier Field two weeks ago in his first NFL start. Last week was a different story, as the Los Angeles Chargers handled Chicago by 17 points in Southern California.

Bagent has completed 70% of his passes on the year. However, he is averaging just 6.0 yards per attempt, according to Pro Football Reference. That figure indicates an offense that is frequently calling short passes behind the line of scrimmage, or just beyond it, in an effort to protect an inexperienced QB from turnover-worthy plays downfield. Bagent has tallied 477 yards, 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions on 80 pass attempts in 2023.

Bears QB Justin Fields Says Thumb Pain Persists After Throwing for First Time in 3 Weeks

Justin Fields, Bears

GettyQuarterback Justin Fields of the Chicago Bears.

Fields spoke with the media on Friday and said his rehabilitation is heading in the right direction. He stopped short, however, of saying he feels good enough to go against the Saints Sunday.

“We’ll see. I’ve been mentally preparing … like I’m going to play, but we’ll see just how it feels today,” Fields said. “Felt good, first day back throwing. But I’ve got to use a glove right now.”

The quarterback added that he is still feeling some pain in his thumb and that his grip on the football isn’t all the way back, hence the need of the glove.

Another week off for Fields isn’t the worst outcome for Chicago, particularly after a 2-6 start. If the 2024 NFL Draft was held today, the Bears would own the third pick. However, the team would also select at the No. 2 spot thanks to its trade last offseason with the Carolina Panthers.

The Saints have a good defense and Chicago has won just once away from home all season. The Bears also won just one road contest in 2022. The team finished that year 3-14.

Chicago is not necessarily looking to lose the rest of its games in the second year of a rebuild, especially because continued losing takes its toll on locker room veterans and overall team morale. That said, there is no need to rush Fields back into the fray when losing now is objectively better for the Bears’ future — as long as it doesn’t stretch meaningfully into the 2024 campaign.

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