It has been 10 days since Justin Fields suffered a rib injury that cost him a good chunk of the Ravens game and kept him out of playing against the Lions on Thanksgiving altogether.
And while his status for this upcoming Sunday’s game against the Cardinals is unknown, at least the Bears will get their QB1 back in some capacity beginning today:
#Bears QB Justin Fields will practice today. His status will be updated after practice.
— Zack Pearson (@Zack_Pearson) December 1, 2021
Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy said Fields will participate in the first practice of game week. It’s just that his designation is still to be determined. However, when Nagy told reporters that Andy Dalton would get starter’s reps (h/t FOX-32’s Kaitlin Sharkey), it hints at Fields practicing in a limited capacity. Which, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t the worst outcome.
If everything being done at Halas Hall moving forward is with Fields’ best interests in mind, then making sure he is at full strength after a cracked ribs injury before making him a full participant is a sensible course of action. Dalton performed admirably on Thanksgiving. So much so, the NFL on FOX’s crew gave him a silver football trophy for his efforts. Gimmick awards aside, Dalton has been a perfectly cromulent QB2 for Fields. And if he has to take the load of reps while Fields heals, then so be it. Things could be worse.
While Fields is preparing to get some reps, the Bears’ leader on the other side of the ball is sitting out:
Bears LB Roquan Smith will NOT practice today.
— Mark Grote (@markgrotesports) December 1, 2021
Linebacker Roquan Smith will *NOT* practice today. Smith went down with a hamstring injury in the first half of Chicago’s Thanksgiving win in Detroit, but did not return. Nagy said he was hopeful that the injury wasn’t serious enough to put Smith on IR. But the Bears’ injury issues, clarity in diagnosing them, and general hesitance to be forthcoming with how serious they are, I’m not holding my breath. Instead, I – like Nagy – am hoping for the best when it comes to the team’s top tackler.
Smith was on a 17-game pace of 187 total tackles (113 solo), 13 tackles-for-loss, and 5 sacks before suffering the hamstring injury. The Georgia product already had 113 total tackles before the injury. So, it should go without saying that Smith’s absence will be a pretty big deal. Alec Ogletree, Christian Jones, Joel Iyiegbuniwe, and Caleb Johnson are all in the mix as the next-man-up on the linebacker depth chart. Although, I suppose the Bears could deploy a heavy nickel set using DeAndre Houston-Carson in a hybrid role in lieu of a linebacker. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.