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Bears Bulletin

Justin Fields will not play Saturday vs. Colts

Bears quarterback Justin Fields
Bears quarterback Justin Fields

WESTFIELD, Ind. – After two spirited joint practices with the Colts, Bears coach Matt Eberflus announced that quarterback Justin Fields and some other first-teamers will not play in Saturday night's preseason game in Indianapolis.

"He's not playing, and the selected starters that we have are not playing in the game because of the work we've done here," Eberflus said. "We decided that last night and that's what we're going with. We have a lot of great opportunity. I talked to the backups just now and last night about the opportunity they have ahead of them getting all these reps. It's going to be a great opportunity for those guys."

Fields played the first two series in last Saturday's preseason-opening win over the Titans, completing 3 of 3 passes for 129 yards, two touchdowns and a perfect 158.3 passer rating. He gained even more valuable reps in highly competitive 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills Wednesday and Thursday against the Colts. 

"It's invaluable," Eberflus said of the joint practices. "It's really like playing two preseason games. It really is, with your guys in a safe environment. It's really that. If they let me do it again, I'd do it again next week. I really like it. It's very valuable to the coaches and the scouts in terms of evaluation."

Eberflus has not yet determined whether Fields will play in the preseason finale a week from Saturday against the Bills at Soldier Field. 

"We will discuss the third game going forward," Eberflus said. "We've got a bunch of good practices next week against each other heading into that Buffalo week. We'll decide at the latter part of that week what's going to happen."

If it were solely up to Fields, there's no doubt the third-year pro would suit up against the Colts.

"He always wants to play," Eberflus said. "I mean, he's a football player, he's a competitor. He's an elite competitor. He wants to compete every single down, every single play he can. But we're going to do what's best for the football team."

In Thursday's practice, Fields completed 8 of 8 passes including four touchdowns in 7-on-7 drills. He beat tight coverage on back-to-back plays, throwing pinpoint TD passes on a fade to Darnell Mooney in the right corner of the end zone and then connecting with DJ Moore in the left corner.

The first-team offense wasn't as efficient in 11-on-11 drills. In one 10-play span, the unit committed two penalties, allowed two sacks and turned the ball over on a Fields pass intended for Cole Kmet over the middle that was deflected high into the air and intercepted. 

Thursday's practice was chippy throughout, with about half a dozen skirmishes. There didn't seem to be many if any punches thrown; just a lot of pushing and shoving and chirping between players after the whistle. 

"It's just competition," Eberflus said. "My parameters are that I don't want to see anybody punching, no slapping, no grabbing facemasks. You can talk a little bit, but let's not go over the line with that. That's going to happen. You've got a lot of guys here that are competing for jobs, and they're competing at the hardest and highest level they can. And a lot of them aren't going to make the football team. They're just trying to make the team. I certainly understand that aspect of it. But we've also got to protect the players and make sure we're safe."

Eberflus wasn't happy when Colts cornerback Kenny Moore knocked into Fields on a blitz, causing the Bears quarterback to fumble. Eberflus coached Moore for four seasons while serving as Indianapolis' defensive coordinator from 2018-21. 

"I know Kenny and I love Kenny, and he's a great player and a great man," Eberflus said. "He came off the edge. We had our protection break down, and at the very last moment our tackle pushed him. I told Kenny after the play, 'You're athletic enough to move out of the way and veer from that,' and he agreed. We just need to do a good job of staying away from both quarterbacks and keeping them safe."

News and notes

The Bears defense was arguably the best unit on the field in the two joint practices. On Thursday, nickel back Kyler Gordon made an impressive interception in 1-on-1 drills. Safety Elijah Hicks broke up a pass in the end zone and later stripped the ball from quarterback Anthony Richardson on a read-option run. Defensive tackle Gervon Dexter Sr. registered what would have been a sack. And safety Bralen Trahan broke up a pass over the middle. 

In 1-on-1 drills, receiver Isaiah Ford made two sparkling TD catches, diving to snag a P.J. Walker pass and hauling in a Nathan Peterman throw in the corner of the end zone with a defender on his back.

Starting center Cody Whitehair exited Thursday's practice with an apparent injury and was replaced by second-year pro Doug Kramer Jr.. 

"I don't have an update on Cody yet," Eberflus said. "We're still looking at it. I don't have the information, so I can't give anything there. And Kramer does a nice job. Kramer sets the protections. He sets the calls in the run game. Uber smart. He's quick, athletic. He does a lot of things well."

Safety Eddie Jackson and receiver Velus Jones Jr. both sat out Thursday's workout and will not play Saturday due to undisclosed injuries. But Eberflus said that it's "nothing long-term [with] either one of those guys, so they're in good shape." 

Eberflus revealed that he sold his home in Indianapolis two weeks ago, adding that now "my home is in Chicago."

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