Bears QB Justin Fields will play a ‘select’ number of snaps Saturday

He might not be out there long, though — Eberflus said that the injured offensive line in front of Fields will affect their thought process when charting out snaps.

SHARE Bears QB Justin Fields will play a ‘select’ number of snaps Saturday
Bears quarterback Justin Fields

Bears quarterback Justin Fields has played in one preseason game.

Michael Conroy/AP

Bears quarterback Justin Fields will start in the exhibition finale Saturday against the Bills and participate in a “select number of plays,” coach Matt Eberflus said Thursday.

The question now becomes: On how many of those downs will Fields have to run for his life?

Starting Fields in a meaningless game is a head-scratcher and runs counter to NFL trends, particularly after the Bears sat him in Game 2 against the Colts. Having him play behind a second-string offensive line is dangerous.

The good news is, it figures to be brief.

Eberflus is keenly aware of the patchwork offensive line in front of Fields and the impact it will have on his appetite to keep him in the game for long.

“That’s going to be discussed, for sure,” Eberflus said.

So why play him at all?

“Getting the reps in the game,” Eberflus said. “Being able to function with his teammates and with his receivers, the offensive line and tight ends. Just to get that efficiency down, if it’s for a short period of time or a longer period of time.”

Fields played 30 snaps — more than half of the Bears’ downs — in the preseason finale last season. This year is different. While Fields still needs to make a leap as a passer, he’s no longer learning a new offense under a new coach and coordinator. Expect his snap count to shrink accordingly.

Here’s another reason: The Bears figure to be without three of their five starting linemen Saturday at Soldier Field. Another will be playing a different position than the Bears intended on the first day of camp.

Left guard Nate Davis has been a full participant in two padded practices during training camp. Right guard Teven Jenkins has a leg injury and could miss the start of the season. Rookie right tackle Darnell Wright, the 10th overall pick in the draft, was hurt Tuesday and has been spotted in an ankle brace the last few days.

Cody Whitehair, who began camp as the center, has been playing left guard after hurting his hand last week. Lucas Patrick, who can play center and guard, is still hurt but could start with Jenkins out.

The Bills, who ranked second in points allowed per game, sixth in yards allowed and 14th in sacks last year, are playing their starters. They’ll get to feast against the Bears’ backup line. Doug Kramer, who is expected to play center, has never played a regular-season snap. Right guard Ja’Tyre Carter has played 31. Right tackle Larry Borom graded out as the 58th-best pass-blocking tackle by Pro Football Focus last year.

Fields is used to having to run away from defenders. He was sacked on 14.75% of his drop-backs last season, the second-highest mark ever for someone who threw at least 300 passes in a season. The Bears used every avenue possible this offseason to try to ensure that won’t happen again, moving Whitehair and Jenkins to new positions, drafting Wright and signing Davis to a three-year, $30 million contract.

Injuries have left the line in flux throughout camp, though. Fields has been handling it well, said left tackle Braxton Jones, who will play Saturday.

“He tries to be the same always in leading the group, making sure we’re all on the same page having great days every day,” he said. “Sometimes with that, you might not have the best days some days. And he tries to keep us going, just moving forward always.”

The best direction for Fields to move would be toward a baseball cap and a cup of Gatorade after a few snaps. That’s what happened in the first preseason game, when he threw two touchdown passes and was barely touched during a seven-snap stint.

Fields won’t be the only starting quarterback playing this weekend. As teams begin to fine-tune their strategies in the new three-game preseason, some are beginning to view the finale as a good time to play their starters.

The Packers will play Jordan Love for the third consecutive game.

“I don’t think you can give these guys — young players in particular, that position — enough reps,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said this week.

Josh Allen will play against the Bears. Patrick Mahomes will face the Browns. Even the Jets’ Aaron Rodgers — who hasn’t played in the preseason since 2018 — is expected to play this week.

“You can’t coach scared,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said this week.

When you’re putting your starting quarterback behind three backup linemen, though, a little fear is appropriate.

The Latest
El programa Bike Chicago de la Municipalidad comenzó en 2022 con el objetivo de regalar bicicletas a los residentes que tengan problemas para transportarse.
The No. 1 overall pick will have to learn some lessons himself when the regular season starts. In the interim, he’s leaning on others.
Los fiscales dijeron el viernes que las víctimas y el acusado presuntamente se encontraron por primera vez mientras se incorporaban a un área en construcción.
Los problemas también afectaron a algunos servicios de Metra, la venta de entradas en teatros locales y a comercios. La causa del caos fue una actualización defectuosa de CrowdStrike, empresa de seguridad en línea cuyo software se utiliza en todo el mundo en múltiples sectores.