How Bears will navigate Justin Fields uncertainty while preparing for Panthers originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Justin Fields' status for the Bears' Thursday night game against the Carolina Panthers remains up in the air as the quarterback continues to rehab the dislocated right thumb on his throwing hand.
Fields is day-to-day, but the uncertainty surrounding his Week 10 availability won't alter how offensive coordinator Luke Getsy prepares to face a Panthers defense that ranks eighth in the NFL in total defense. The Bears will have one game plan and feel comfortable with Fields and backup Tyson Bagent can operate it at maximum efficiency.
"I think that's the cool part of how we put this thing together at the very beginning where we felt like we kind of put it all out there for our guys and being able to take this thing in a few different directions, and the guys feel really comfortable in doing that," Getsy said Tuesday at Halas Hall. "So, I don't think from everybody else's perspective in that room other than the two quarterbacks, it's not going to feel like it's a different gameplan by any means if we go one direction or the other."
However, if Fields is able to go but isn't 100 percent, Getsy will have to tinker with things in the leadup to and during the game, depending on the quarterback's limitations and what he feels he can effectively run.
"With anybody that's in a situation that they're not able to do something, that happens in the middle of games, that happens in your preparation," Getsy. "You're obviously going to take those things into consideration no matter whether that happens during the game or in your week leading up to it.
"So you're always going to have those battles that you're going to have to work through."
Fields returned to practice in a limited capacity Friday and was estimated as limited for Monday and Tuesday's walkthrough.
The third-year quarterback said Friday that his grip strength hasn't fully returned. Fields is wearing a glove to take some pressure off his healing thumb.
Fields will have to check a few boxes before being allowed to return to action.
"It always comes down to the medical staff clearing them, how the play feels he can function in the game, and then the coaches looking at it and say, 'Hey, yes, he could function at a high level and get the job done.' So it's always those three factors," head coach Matt Eberflus said Monday.
If Fields clears all three hurdles, he will return Thursday in primetime against the Panthers. If he can't, Bagent will get start No. 4.
There won't be concurrent gameplans. The Bears have one Fields-Bagent plan, with tweaks to be made depending on who gets the nod.