- Covered the 49ers, Raiders and Warriors for the San Jose Mercury News. She joined ESPN in 2017.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields said Wednesday that he is dealing with an injury to the acromioclavicular joint in his left shoulder and will evaluate how he feels later this week before determining whether he’ll play against the New York Jets.
“It’s a separated shoulder with partially torn ligaments,” Fields said, describing his injury. “Basically, like an AC joint. That’s my understanding of it.”
The quarterback landed on his left shoulder after he was tackled by Atlanta Falcons cornerback Dee Alford on a first-down run with 1:47 to play in Chicago’s 27-24 loss at Atlanta. The Bears continue to classify him as day-to-day and are leaving the door open for Fields to play Sunday.
“We’ll see where it goes, and then when we get to tomorrow, we’ll know more, and I think by Friday we’ll know more,” coach Matt Eberflus said. “It’s kind of one of those things, you work through the week, and we’ll see where it is and hopefully we’re getting better and better every single day.”
The Bears held a walk-through practice Wednesday. Fields’ projected status on the injury report was classified as limited, although the quarterback did say he threw during Wednesday’s session and felt pain in his injured shoulder.
“The pain is pretty high today just with throwing and stuff like that, finishing throws, just the pain with that,” Fields said. “I’m just going to work throughout the week to get that motion down, try to get that pain down a little bit and see what happens Friday night, Saturday. See how it goes.”
The quarterback said he was not sure whether he would have to wear a harness or brace on his left shoulder to play.
Fields was medically cleared to practice after going through a series of exercises to test his range of motion and the strength of his injured arm. He noted that he felt the most significant amount of pain on his follow-through and that he experienced discomfort handing off the ball on running plays.
Handing off the ball with his right hand, which would be the opposite of his current operation, is not something the quarterback plans to do.
“Nah. If I have to do that, I’m probably not going to play,” Fields said.
Eberflus said that once a player is cleared by the medical staff, the next decision on whether he will play is up to the player himself.
“Once the player says ‘yes, I’m good to go,’ and then the last hurdle is, or the last thing you have to say is, ‘OK, because of who this guy is, is he really, truly ready to go?’ But once the medical staff says he’s cleared, that’s what their job is, he’s cleared to go,” the coach said. “Then we’ve got to decide, can he go full speed? Can he operate? That’s like anything else. Like we had an injury a couple weeks ago with a defensive back. It’s like, can he go full speed, and can he operate? And that’s up to the player and the coaches’ eye.”
Although the Bears have lost their past four games and hold a 3-8 record, Eberflus sees a level of importance in playing Fields if he’s physically able.
“I would just say that if he’s ready to play, he’s going to play,” Eberflus said. “He feels that way, we feel that way. If he’s ready to go, feels good about it, he’s going to play the game. Really, the reason is because we’re trying to win. We want to win the game. There’s a lot of great things to getting the experience of playing a game, every single game we can. That’s an important part to this season.”
Fields noted that Eberflus said the decision would be up to him if he is cleared by the medical staff, and while his competitive nature has led him to play through other injuries — most notably cracked ribs and a partially torn hip muscle during Ohio State’s national championship semifinal game against Clemson in 2020 — weighing the effects that reinjury could have on the rest of his season is something he will consider.
“Of course, I’m not going to sacrifice playing in this game for me risking that I might not be able to play later in games,” Fields said. “I’m not going to have to sacrifice playing in this game and now I get hurt, I have to sit out two or three more weeks after that. Again, just seeing how my body feels, listening to my body and making sure I’m not forcing anything and stuff like that. Just seeing how it goes.”
Jets coach Robert Salah announced Wednesday that he will start Mike White at quarterback in place of Zach Wilson, who will be inactive and given “a reset.” If Fields is unable to play in Week 12, the Bears will turn to backup quarterback Trevor Siemian.
Wilson’s accountability came under fire after a 10-3 loss to the New England Patriots when the quarterback responded “no” when asked whether the offense had let the Jets’ defense down.
Fields was asked Wednesday about a report that he apologized to the Bears’ defense in Atlanta after Chicago’s offense failed to score on its final drive when trailing by three points.
“Yeah, I did,” Fields said. “I was getting my shoulder checked out, and before I went to go get the X-ray, I just wanted to talk to the team. Because, I mean, it was 27-24, the defense held them to a field goal, so they gave us that [opportunity]. Of course, any time we have that opportunity to either go tie the game or even go win the game for the team, we want to do that.
“So, I apologized to those guys, especially for that game-ending pick. I felt like they did their job in terms of holding them to a field goal. It’s not like they gave up a touchdown, so we needed to then score a touchdown. … They did their job of holding them to a field goal, and all the offense needed to do was go get points, and we didn’t do that. We just have to get better in those situations and keep going.”
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