Bears coach Matt Nagy revealed Wednesday that he expects Justin Fields to be a full participant in practice this week and start Sunday's season finale in Minnesota.
The rookie quarterback has missed the last two games with an ankle injury he sustained Dec. 20 in a 17-9 loss to the Vikings at Soldier Field. Fields was hurt in the second quarter but played the rest of the game.
"Of course, I'm excited to get back out on the field and play with my teammates," Fields said. "I'm able to walk pain-free now, so that's good, and running a little bit, too. Last week I wasn't able to do that [with] it being pain free. It just slowly got better and that's why I'm playing this game."
Even though he's dealing with an injury and the Bears have been eliminated from playoff contention, Fields wants to return to start Sunday's finale.
"You don't get these moments back," he said. "I don't know who may be here next year, so I'm just getting that one last game with those guys in and just not taking any of it for granted. I could just sit out the last game and just get ready for next season, but every opportunity I get to play the game I love, I'm going to do it … I think it's important to show what kind of guy I am to my teammates and my coaches."
Fields enters the final weekend of the regular season having appeared in 12 games with 10 starts. He's completed 58.9 percent of his passes for 1,870 yards with seven touchdowns, 10 interceptions and a 73.2 passer rating. Showing his dual threat ability, he's also rushed for 420 yards and two TDs on 72 carries.
"He's done everything that we've asked him to do this year in the developmental part," said coach Matt Nagy. "As we know, at the quarterback position, it takes time. As I've been saying from the very beginning, whether it's games or years, you look at some of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play this game, they're still getting better and better whether they're in their eighth, ninth or 10th year.
"He definitely has developed and improved this year from the very start, from the day he got here, what he can do within this offense to the experience he's had to building relationships with his teammates and coaches."
“I could just sit out the last game and just get ready for next season, but every opportunity I get to play the game I love, I’m going to do it …” Bears QB Justin Fields
Fields told reporters that feels he's made "a lot of progress" and "learned a lot" as a rookie and is "definitely looking forward to the future." He added that he's disappointed that the Bears haven't won more games.
Asked where he believes he's taken the greatest strides as a rookie, Fields said: "I can see the field better in terms of seeing more of a wide perspective than locking down on one route or one-to-two routes, just knowing where my checkdowns are and kind of knowing where my get-out answers are and just knowing where all those guys are."
The progress that Fields has made has been evident to Bears third-year running back David Montgomery.
"He's always been a pretty calm person, but being able to see him as calm as he has been and as he is in those kind of abrupt situations, it kind of is a [testament] to who he is as a person and as a player as well," Montgomery said. "He's grown in a lot of areas, just picking up the offense and being that quarterback, being that leader guy that I know he is. He's definitely gotten better every week and every opportunity he has had on the field, so it's good to see that."