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After Further Review

Justin Fields 'day-to-day' with left shoulder injury

Bears quarterback Justin Fields
Bears quarterback Justin Fields

Matt Eberflus said Monday that quarterback Justin Fields is "day-to-day" with the left shoulder injury he suffered late in Sunday's 27-24 loss to the Falcons.

"The injury report comes out Wednesday and right now it's day-to-day," the Bears coach told reporters. "We'll see where he is on Wednesday. So we've got time. We'll see where it is and go from there."

Fields was injured on the first play of the Bears' final possession when he landed hard on his non-throwing shoulder after being tackled by cornerback Dee Alford following a 1-yard gain on a designed quarterback run.

Fields remained down for a few minutes, grabbing his shoulder in pain. Because officials stopped play due to the injury and there were less than two minutes remaining in the game, the Bears had to either call a timeout or insert backup quarterback Trevor Siemian into the game.

"At that point we were going to put Trevor in for a play, keep our timeout, or we were going to use our timeout," Eberflus said. "Justin said he was good and he went back in. We just took the timeout and went from there."

On the next play, Fields gained four yards on a quarterback draw. Many were puzzled that the Bears called a quarterback run immediately after Fields was injured—but they actually didn't.

"That was a mistake," Eberflus said. "That was supposed to be a halfback draw. He was supposed to hand it off there. That was supposed to be 'D-Mo' (David Montgomery) going up the middle."

Eberflus blamed the miscue on "miscommunication on that play between the halfback [and] quarterback."

On third-and-5 from their own 30, Fields threw high to Montgomery over the middle. The ball deflected off the running back's fingertips and was intercepted by safety Jaylinn Hawkins, sealing the win.

After the pick, Fields sat on the Bears bench, clutching his left shoulder while being examined by doctors and trainers. Following the game, he underwent an X-ray before speaking to the media.

Fields told reporters that he was hurting but wanted to remain in the game on the last drive, saying: "I was just trying to be there for my teammates and fight through the pain."

Fields also suffered from leg cramps throughout the fourth quarter. But Eberflus felt that situation was under control before the final drive, enabling the quarterback to continue to run the ball.

Fields' status for Sunday's road game against the Jets is not known. The first injury report of the week is due to be released Wednesday. 

If the Bears have to start Siemian, Eberflus doesn't anticipate it would require a major adjustment.

"I don't think that would take that much," he said. "We would just lean on one side of the offense as opposed to leaning on the side that we've expanded to, to a certain degree. I think that would be a pretty easy transition."

Siemian signed with the Bears March 29. He arrived having appeared in 33 NFL games with 29 starts over six seasons with the Broncos (2015-17), Vikings (2018), Jets (2019), Titans (2020) and Saints (2020-21), completing 58.9 percent of his passes for 6,843 yards with 41 touchdowns, 27 interceptions and an 81.2 passer rating.

Siemian has played in just one game this season, completing his only pass attempt for five yards late in a 49-29 loss to the Cowboys. In the preseason, he connected on 20 of 36 passes for 191 yards with three touchdowns, no interceptions and a 98.3 rating. 

"Trevor is a very smart individual; a very good passer, has a great grasp of the offense," Eberflus said. "He's been here since Day 1. High functional intelligence, so we're excited about that." 

Fields, meanwhile, leads the Bears in rushing with 834 yards and seven touchdowns on 122 carries. In five games since a thorough evaluation of personnel and schemes were conducted during the team's mini-bye, offensive coordinator Luke Getsy has called more designed quarterback runs and read-option plays. Fields has responded by rushing for an average of 110.4 yards per game and running for six touchdowns. 

Although Fields has been highly effective as a rusher, he's still a quarterback who must avoid taking too many big hits. 

"You've got to balance that," Eberflus said. "I've said that since we started this, since that New England game. I said, 'hey, you've got to make sure we're smart about what we're doing.' I'm still saying the same thing. You've got to be smart. You've got to stay out of harm's way. 

"We're constantly talking to him about that because he is an aggressive guy and he's strong and all those things, but he is our quarterback. So we've got to make sure that he does get to the sideline and works himself out, and then when he is in the middle part of the field, slide. He did a pretty good job of that yesterday, but he was in harm's way a couple times."

On one of those occasions—on the quarterback draw one play after injuring his shoulder—Fields appeared to be the victim of a helmet-to-helmet hit by Falcons defensive lineman Grady Jarrett while sliding to give himself up. As has been the case in some similar situations this season, no penalty was called.

"I think we've got to look at it," Eberflus said. "I think that we've got to protect those quarterbacks, and that's including our quarterback. We have to do a better job in the league, the total league has to do a good job of that. These guys are special. All these quarterbacks are special. We've got to do a great job protecting them when they are on the sideline and when they are in the open field."

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