Bears QB Justin Fields expected to start vs. Packers on Sunday

Fields has no game status designation on the injury report, meaning he’s cleared to play.

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Justin Fields

Fields was out against the Jets, but has hoped he wouldn’t miss more time.

Nam Y. Huh/AP

Justin Fields will be back at quarterback for the Bears when they host the Packers on Sunday, and as long as there’s little to no risk of him further damaging his left shoulder, which he separated two weeks ago in Atlanta, that’s a good thing for him and the team.

Last week against the Jets, the Bears got a sobering look at what they are without Fields: punchless and hopeless. But with his unparalleled running ability and increasing capacity as a passer, Fields gives them a chance to keep pace with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Fields practiced in full Thursday and Friday, something he hadn’t done since Nov. 18, and coach Matt Eberflus said “it’s a green light” for his return, barring any setbacks before kickoff.

“He feels, and we feel, that the mobility and strength is there for him to protect himself,” Eberflus said. “He feels like he’s 100% ready to go.”

Fields spoke with reporters Wednesday and said he’s feeling better than he did last week, but he was unsure if it was realistic to be back this fast. On Friday, he was upbeat in the locker room after practice, just like any other Friday.

The Bears really need him to be ready, because it’s possible no one else is.

Backup quarterback Trevor Siemian gutted out an oblique muscle injury against the Jets last week, but now he’s having season-ending surgery on it. Tim Boyle is the other QB on the roster, but he only arrived Wednesday after the Bears signed him from the Lions’ practice squad.

That means their own practice-squad quarter-back, Nathan Peterman, will back up Fields. His last start was a three-interception debacle for the Bills in a 41-9 loss to the Bears in 2018.

The shift in Fields’ trajectory seemed sudden. Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy said Thursday before practice that he expected Fields to be limited all week. By Friday afternoon, the Bears were so certain of his health that they didn’t even list him as questionable to maintain the mystery.

“It’s progress [in] mobility and strength,” Eberflus said. “He feels more confident . . . feels good. Had a good practice again [Friday], so we’re excited.”

Anyone in Eberflus’ spot would be. The Bears are desperate for a lift as they sit on a five-game losing streak while bracing for an equally desperate Rodgers, who’s playing through a rib injury as he tries to keep the Packers’ faint playoff hopes alive.

With a thoroughly stripped-down defense, the Bears have allowed nearly 35 points per game during the losing streak and are counting on Fields to give them a shot. He had them within five points of the Cowboys in the middle of the third quarter when this slide started Oct. 30, and he put them in position to win at the end against the Dolphins, Lions and Falcons before falling short.

But without him? The Bears went scoreless the entire second half last week in a 31-10 blowout by the Jets.

Fields was in the best stretch of his young career when he got hurt on a hit at the end of the Falcons game. Over seven games, he had a 97.6 passer rating with 11 touchdowns and four interceptions. Plus, he averaged 98.1 yards rushing and ran for six touchdowns.

Injuries are part of the deal for quarterbacks like Fields. His grit endeared him to the Bears in their pre-draft study last year; he had played in the national title game for Ohio State with cracked ribs and a partially torn muscle in his hip.

“He’s shown grit and toughness throughout the whole year,” Eberflus said. “His ability to come back this fast and go out there and play is a big boost for our offense, and it shows the kind of guys that we want.”

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