Bears planning on Justin Fields starting at QB against Lions

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Bears plan to start quarterback Justin Fields against the Lions in Week 11, coach Matt Eberflus announced Wednesday.

Fields, 24, dislocated his right thumb in the second half against the Vikings on Oct. 15 and was sidelined for Chicago's past four games. The quarterback began throwing when he returned to practice in limited capacity on Nov. 3. He was a full participant during Wednesday's session.

"We're excited [to see] where he goes and again, this will be a big evaluation today ... about going full speed, doing full speed reps and all that," Eberflus said.

Fields said he taped his thumb for Wednesday's practice and will see whether he needs to do the same on Sunday. The quarterback wore a glove on his right hand when he first returned to help grip the football but has since been able to play without it.

"It's not 100%, but it feels good," Fields said when asked whether he's still feeling residual pain. "There's still a little bit of healing left. But it's stable."

Fields said there was consideration given to him returning last Thursday against the Panthers, but the Bears training staff told the quarterback that, "it was best for my future long-term just to wait it out one more week."

Field's return coincides with the Bears getting healthy on the offensive line. Nate Davis, who sustained a high ankle sprain against the Vikings, is expected to start at right guard with Teven Jenkins moving back to left guard. This is the healthiest the Bears have been up front since before the calf injury that Jenkins sustained in mid-August, which forced Chicago to shuffle its starting offensive line combination.

The Bears won one game with Fields at quarterback this season, when they beat Washington in Week 5. He put together his first 300-yard passing performance in a 31-28 loss to the Broncos, followed by another 282 yards passing and four touchdowns in a 40-20 win over the Commanders on Oct. 5.

In five and a half games before sustaining the injury, Fields threw 11 touchdown passes and six interceptions. He is 14th in passer rating (91.6) and 26th in QBR (39.1). The Bears are 3-7 ahead of two meetings with Detroit over their next three games, and Chicago believes Fields has ample opportunity to prove he can be the long-term option at quarterback.

"I think seven weeks is enough time to show consistency and being the high performer that we expect him to be," Eberflus said. "I know he's had some good performances along this year, certainly the last few have been solid. We expect consistency out of all our positions."

Fields, on the other hand, is only looking at his final seven starts as a chance to win more games.

"I'm not here to prove anything to anybody," Fields said. "I'm playing for my teammates, I'm playing for the coaches, and that's it. Everything else will take care of itself. So I'm not necessarily trying to prove anything to anybody. Just go out there with my brothers. And go out there and perform."

Having Fields at quarterback opens parts of the game plan that the offense did not use with rookie backup Tyson Bagent, according to Eberflus. While Bagent transitions back into his No. 2 role, the Bears are pleased with the progress the undrafted free agent made in his four career starts.

"We never put ceiling on players, but we certainly like where his floor is because the sky's the limit for everybody," Eberflus said of Bagent. "You never want to do that. Guys can grow into certain spaces that they didn't even think they could. So, you have to give them that opportunity, but we certainly like where he is right now."

Fields was "not surprised" that the idea of a potential quarterback controversy upon his return picked up steam when Bagent performed well in his absence. The 24-year-old, however, does believes he can apply parts of what worked well for the Bears offense during Bagent's four starts into his game.

"Yeah, I mean, I think really just looking at all quarterbacks," Fields said. "Tyson, quarterbacks around the league, quarterbacks in college, we all play the game differently, so things that Tyson did well, I'm definitely going to try to emulate that of course in my game. But at the end of the day, we're different quarterbacks, we don't do the same things. But, of course, there's bits and pieces that we do differently that he did well on the field and of course I'm going to try to add that my game for sure."