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For Bears rookie QB Fields, 'experience is great'

Bears QB Justin Fields in action against the Minnesota Vikings.

As it's been throughout the year, the development of Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields will remain a primary focus over the final three weeks of the season.

The first-round pick from Ohio State has shown flashes of his dynamic dual-threat ability while also committing occasional miscues typical of an inexperienced player.

The Bears are confident that Fields will benefit from the experience he's gaining and will learn to overcome the adversity that comes with quarterbacking a 4-10 team.

"The experience is great for him," said coach Matt Nagy. "And then I would say, also, you get to see the dynamics of the relationships of how people are when you're winning, how people are when you're losing. You can see it. That's not just the coaches, but that's player-by-player, too. You get to really see where guys are when things aren't easy. It reveals a lot of people's character of who they are, so I know that right now for him, he's probably taking note of all that."

Observing his teammates during trying times no doubt will enhance Fields' leadership ability. On the field, all the snaps he's getting should give him a chance to become the quarterback the Bears envisioned when they traded up to draft him.

"Every rep he gets is going to help him grow to become a great quarterback," Nagy said. "It's not going to happen overnight, this year, next year, it's going to take a little bit of time. He's going to grow every year, but in the end it's going to be awesome because he's going to be a really good one."

So far this season, Fields has completed 58.9 percent of his passes for 1,870 yards with seven touchdowns, 10 interceptions and a 73.2 passer rating. He has also rushed for 420 yards and two TDs on 72 carries.

Despite being a rookie, Fields brings a seasoned veteran's levelheaded approach to the huddle that his teammates appreciate.

"Justin's been great," said second-year tight end Cole Kmet. "Every time that something bad happens or something good happens, he kind of just stays right at even keel, and that's been pretty impressive and fun to play with in the huddle.

"Every play he does a good job of kind of resetting everybody and making sure we're all on the same page in that regard and kind of just keeping everybody calm and doing all that type of stuff. It's pretty impressive, and I know guys are kind of following his lead in that regard."

Fields was limited in Wednesday's walk-through practice with an ankle injury he sustained in Monday night's loss to the Vikings.

"I tweaked it in the second quarter, but when you're playing in the game, you've got a bunch of adrenaline going on and stuff," Fields said. "That's when I first felt it, but I was still good enough to play through it. It got worse after the game and the next morning, but it felt better [Wednesday morning]."

Asked about his status for Sunday's game in Seattle, Fields said: "Right now, I'm expected to play. But it's really day-by-day."

Fields certainly hopes to play, especially because it would be his first career matchup against the quarterback he's emulated even before he joined the Bears, Seahawks star Russell Wilson.

"Russell does a great job of extending plays; not only him, but their receivers they have over there," Fields said. "They have a lot of explosive plays off scrambles. That's one thing you can take from Russell's game. Of course, I've always looked up to him; the kind of person he is on the field and off the field. He's a great quarterback and a great person."

Scouts have compared the skill sets and playing styles of Wilson and Fields, and Nagy sees similarities between the two—right down to how they both stick out the ball to gain a few more feet when they scramble out of bounds. They also share many of the same intangibles.

"When you look at the player and you look at just who they are, the person, the obsession they have for this game, I mean you talk about two quarterbacks that are winners, you talk about two quarterbacks that just care so much about competing," Nagy said. "And the other thing that I think that you see—and I've always seen this about Russell and you're going to continue to see this with Justin—is in big-time moments, you make big-time plays. That's probably the similarities that Justin will end up providing when his career is all said and done because he just has that."

With the Bears making the long trek out west to Seattle this weekend, here are the 10 longest trips they've made over the past decade.

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Larry Mayer

Bears Senior Writer

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