There’s little clarity on Bears QB Justin Fields’ shoulder injury
Coach Matt Eberflus didn’t want to tip his hand about Fields’ health Monday, one day after he had X-rays on his left shoulder following a 27-24 loss to the Falcons.
Bears coach Matt Eberflus offered precious few details about quarterback Justin Fields’ future Monday, one day after Fields suffered an injury to his left shoulder during a 27-24 loss Sunday to the Falcons.
It’s clear, however, that the Bears are weighing how to move forward with Fields, whose physical running style has redefined the future of their franchise in the last six weeks.
At issue when weighing Fields’ return will be his short- and long-term health, the paltry stakes for which the 3-8 Bears are playing and the value of continuing the offensive momentum they’ve gained. Shutting Fields down for a game or two — the Bears have a bye Dec. 11 — might help heal the shoulder and preserve his body.
‘‘Certainly, all those things have to be looked at,’’ Eberflus said. ‘‘When you’re looking at an injury for any player, what are the long-term effects of that and then where is it? Where exactly is it? Is it something that we can play through, or is it something that we can have rest? With any player, we take into equation those two things.’’
Fields injured his left shoulder when he was hit by Falcons cornerback Dee Alford on a first-down run toward the left sideline with 1:47 left Sunday. He was taken by cart to an X-ray room after the game and had MRI exams Monday.
Eberflus called the injury a ‘‘day-to-day proposition,’’ but he wouldn’t rule out a season-ending diagnosis, either. Those discordant statements were meant to offer as little insight as possible to the Jets, whom the Bears play Sunday.
Eberflus considers such information a competitive advantage, though it’s unclear in which ways that has benefitted his team this season. He said the Bears would give their next update the first time the league makes them do so — in the injury report Wednesday.
Eberflus claimed switching to veteran backup Trevor Siemian, a Northwestern alum who has taken three snaps and completed one pass this season, wouldn’t be difficult.
‘‘We would just lean on one side of the offense, as opposed to leaning on the side that we’ve expanded to, to a certain degree,’’ Eberflus said. ‘‘I think that would be a pretty easy transition. Trevor is obviously a very smart individual, a very good passer, has a great grasp of the offense. He’s been here since Day 1. High functional intelligence.’’
Running back David Montgomery was bracing for the Bears to be without Fields in the short term.
‘‘It’d be very different, especially losing a guy like that,’’ he said. ‘‘Especially losing Justin, who he is and what he means to this team and to this offense. Yeah, it’s gonna be super-difficult to not have him. But, you know, [coordinator Luke] Getsy and the offense, we prepare all those guys the same.’’
The severity of Fields’ injury will be a matter of degree. Neither a separated shoulder nor a dislocated shoulder would necessarily rule out a return. David Chao, the SICScore.com analyst who was the Chargers’ team physician for 17 years, said quarterbacks have been able to return from a dislocation without missing games by wearing a harness.
Playing after dislocating his shoulder would hurt Fields’ ability to take contact because he couldn’t use a numbing agent. If Fields separated the shoulder, he wouldn’t need a harness and could receive a numbing injection shortly before kickoff.
Former Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky dislocated his left shoulder and tore the labrum in the joint when he was sacked by the Vikings’ Danielle Hunter in 2019. He missed one start and returned after a bye. He started the rest of the season while playing in a harness and had labrum surgery after the season.
In a season in which Fields unquestionably has been the Bears’ best source of hope, however, the team doesn’t figure to take many risks with his health.
‘‘We’ll see where it goes,’’ Eberflus said.