Bears QB Justin Fields healthy, won’t be shut down

Coach Matt Eberflus said Fields is healthy enough to play the next two games — and will.

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Bears quarterback Justin Fields has started 14 games this season.

Bears quarterback Justin Fields has started 14 games this season.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Yes, quarterback Justin Fields is healthy enough to play the next two weeks.

And, no, the Bears won’t shut him down.

That was the message sent by coach Matt Eberflus on Monday, two days after Fields left the game when his foot was stepped on during his final pass in a 35-13 loss Saturday to the Bills.

After the game, Fields said he couldn’t put his full weight on his foot without pain but claimed he would be fine. His separated left shoulder still hurt, too, but that was no surprise. Fields knew the pain would nag at him once he returned from the injury, which he suffered Nov. 20.

Eberflus was emphatic that Fields won’t be shut down — ‘‘Absolutely not,’’ he said — despite the Bears being in striking distance of the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 draft. The 2-12-1 Texans, who would draft first were the season to end today, are only a half-game worse than the 3-12 Bears with two games left. The Texans host the Jaguars, then finish the season at the Colts; the Bears visit the Lions before hosting the Vikings.

‘‘We’ve got to get better,’’ Eberflus said. ‘‘We want to improve. We want to see where we are. These last two games matter. They’re division opponents to us, very important to our football team to see the competition, to see guys compete against our division.

‘‘I think it’s important for each man, it’s important for each unit and it’s important for our whole football team.’’

Try telling that to the portion of the fan base that has been focused on the draft order long before the Bears embarked on their eight-game losing streak.

Eberflus, however, has emphasized laying the foundation of his program throughout his first season. The Bears largely have marched through an abysmal season without some of the circus acts that come with a losing team. There has been no Kyler Murray-yells-at-Kliff Kingsbury moment. Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett was fired Monday because of a 37-point loss to a five-victory Rams team; the Bears have had no such head-scratching blowouts.

The Bears put cornerbacks Jaylon Johnson and Kindle Vildor on injured reserve Saturday, but Eberflus said he hoped some of the team’s remaining injured veterans would return to practice Wednesday.

Playing the final two games to win has value, Eberflus said.

‘‘We have to learn how to finish,’’ he said. ‘‘We’re at the game two days ago, but you saw it, right? It was fourth quarter, eight minutes to go, it was 21-13, right? We’ve got the ball, and we’ve gotta learn how to finish. We have to finish there. . . . 

‘‘They’re getting close to really understanding how to finish the game, and you finish with game-defining execution. That’s what you finish with. In those moments that the plays, when they matter in the fourth quarter, we execute. And, to me, these next two games are just about that — being able to execute in those game-defining moments, those plays that matter, and getting it done. To me, that’s important going forward to the future.’’

When the Bears prepared for their game against the Packers this month, they were struck by how far Fields had come since the first meeting between the teams in Week 2. There’s a benefit to seeing similar growth in rematches against the Lions and Vikings.

‘‘When you get a like opponent and a like skill set, the schemes are real similar, so it’s always a good comparison to do that,’’ Eberflus said. ‘‘I think that’s a good idea.’’

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