LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields missed his fourth consecutive game because of a dislocated right thumb.
As for whether he'll be ready to return next week, coach Matt Eberflus wouldn't say.
The Bears (3-7) have a little extra time before their next game after posting a 16-13 win over the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night. Whether their No. 1 quarterback will be ready to go when they visit Detroit wasn't quite clear.
“All the guys that are going through the injury deal right now are going to be working with our guys to get back,” Eberflus said Friday. "He’s no different than anyone else. No other update than that.”
Fields hasn’t played since he exited a Week 6 loss to Minnesota. He returned to practice on a limited basis last week and hasn’t been through a full one since then. Tyson Bagent has run the team.
Fields had two of his best performances as a passer in the two games prior to his injury, throwing for a career-high 335 yards in a loss to Denver and 282 in a win at Washington. But his future remains murky.
The Bears have to decide whether to pick up their fifth-year option for 2025. Drafting a quarterback is also a possibility, particularly if they wind up with the No. 1 pick.
Those odds got a boost with the win over Carolina (1-8). That's because Panthers sent their 2024 first-round along with DJ Moore to Chicago for the No. 1 pick this year. Carolina is tied with Arizona at least until Sunday for the worst record in the league. The Cardinals play Atlanta.
The Bears matched their win total from last season when they finished with a league-worst 3-14 record and set a franchise mark for losses.
The defense. The Bears gave up a season-low 213 yards. And while Carolina has one of the league's worst offenses, Chicago has been stingy in recent weeks, holding opponents under 300 yards in three of the past five games.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The passing game. The Bears continue to struggle in this area.
Bagent completed 20 of 33 passes for 162 yards and played turnover-free ball, after throwing three interceptions and losing a fumble in the loss at New Orleans. He has 859 yards with three touchdowns and six interceptions in five appearances since Fields was injured. The Bears are 2-2 in the games he's started.
Not bad considering he's an undrafted rookie from a Division II school — Shepherd University in West Virginia. But they need more from a passing game that ranks 25th.
It didn't help that Moore was flagged twice for offensive interference. The first — which was declined — was on a third-and-19 screen to Roschon Johnson that gained only four yards. The second wiped out a 16-yard gain to Trent Taylor.
Eberflus said Moore had “good right” to be upset about those calls. The Bears plan to turn in video to the league.
DE Montez Sweat. Though he has no sacks in the two games since his arrival from Washington in a trade deadline deal, Sweat made his presence felt against Carolina.
He had three quarterback hits and consistently pressured Bryce Young. The Bears had three sacks to boost their total to a league-low 13. They will face a stiffer challenge against Detroit next week.
WR/KR Velus Jones Jr. He was called out by special teams coordinator Richard Hightower during the week for a 15-yard facemask penalty on a punt in the loss at New Orleans, then was inactive against Carolina. Jones’ two seasons have been marked by mistakes and rough moments on offense and returns.
Eberflus said the Bears had no new injuries in the game.
3 — The Bears had three sacks, just the third time this season they've had more than one in a game. Their high was five in a Week 5 win at Washington that was also on a Thursday.
The Bears go for back-to-back wins when they visit Detroit on Nov. 19. Chicago hasn't won two in a row since beating Seattle and the New York Giants in Weeks 16 and 17 of the 2021 season
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Andrew Seligman, The Associated Press