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Fields returns to practice, feels 'perfectly fine'

Bears quarterback Justin Fields
Bears quarterback Justin Fields

After missing Wednesday's practice due to an illness, Bears quarterback Justin Fields was a full participant in Thursday's workout.

The second-year pro told reporters that he suffered from a cough and headache for a couple days but has since recovered and felt no lingering effects on the field Thursday.

"I felt perfectly fine today in practice," Fields said. "I could've played a game today. It's good."

The former Ohio State star will get that opportunity Sunday when the Bears host the Eagles. And he's excited about facing a dominant Philadelphia defense that leads the NFL with 49 sacks, 24 takeaways, 15 interceptions and 178.7 passing yards per game.

"They're big, athletic and fast," Fields said. "Each one of their guys, their d-linemen, are talented, so they try to create one-on-ones, and when they do stunt, they know how to stunt well. The o-line just has to do a great job holding up one-on-ones and passing off the games and stuff like that. They're talented up front, for sure. It's going to be a good test for us."

Six days after playing the 12-1 Eagles, the Bears will host another Super Bowl contender at Soldier Field, the 10-3 Bills.

"I'm excited to see what we can do as a team," Fields said. "These guys [the Eagles], they're labeled as one of the best teams in the league, so any chance you get to go up against a team like this, [and] the Buffalo Bills next week, it's awesome just to see what we can do now and see where we are right now.

"And, of course, we're going to go in there swinging. They know that. They know that we're not just going to lay down. We're not going to do that. They're going to have to face us. I'm excited to see what we can do, what our offense can do and how it stacks up."

While the Bears (3-10) have dropped six straight games and nine of 10 since they opened 2-1, their offense has shown significant growth over the second half of the season.

In their last seven games, the Bears have averaged 25.3 points and 360.9 yards, scored 21 touchdowns and converted 52.0 percent of their third-down opportunities. In their first six contests, they averaged 15.5 points and 293.5 yards, tallied nine TDs and converted 35.6 percent of their third downs.

"Like I said last week before we played Green Bay, just looking back at Week 2, we were not good at all," Fields said. "It's just crazy how [far] we have come as a team. I think we have definitely gotten better. We're just striving to continue to get better each and every day.

"No matter what our record is, the guys come in the same way every day and they're ready to work. I appreciate that about my teammates and the coaches that we have upstairs, their energy and the way they push us to get better each and every day."

Fields has fueled the offense, blossoming into a dynamic dual threat. The 2021 first-round pick ranks eighth in the NFL in rushing and first among quarterbacks with 905 yards and eight touchdowns on 128 carries and has thrown for 1,896 yards with 13 TDs, 10 interceptions and an 85.4 passer rating.

The second-year quarterback attributes his success to having gained a better overall understanding of the game, saying: "It's kind of just like a feel to where you are just sitting back there and you are just comfortable with the game and with the offense and how the game is going."

Fields felt that he had his best passing performance of the season in the Bears' most recent game, when he completed 20 of 25 passes for 254 yards Dec. 14 in a loss to the Packers. He showed his deep-ball accuracy with completions of 56 yards to Equanimeous St. Brownand 49 yards to N'Keal Harry and was not sacked for the first time in 12 starts this season.

"I felt comfortable," Fields said. "I think that's kind of what made me feel that comfortable in the pocket was just guys were blocking their tails off the last game. As much as we can do that, that will, of course, make the offense go. And of course, everybody knows that the offense starts with them. The running backs, receivers, myself, I can't do anything without the o-line doing their job, so [I'm] super proud of those guys and the way they've improved from Week 1 to now."

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