Chicago Bears coach Matt Eberflus said Monday he was not yet in a position to announce whether quarterback Justin Fields will be ready to start Thursday night’s game against the Carolina Panthers at Soldier Field.
Less than 24 hours after the Bears suffered a 24-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints at the Caesars Superdome, the team was back at Halas Hall for a walk-through to start three days of preparation for the Panthers.
Fields was expected to be limited in that walk-through as he works his way back from a dislocated thumb he suffered Oct. 15 against the Minnesota Vikings. Fields threw at practice Friday for the first time since he was injured and said afterward his grip strength wasn’t 100% and he still was working through some pain.
But the Bears have left open the possibility of a return Thursday.
Eberflus on Monday called Fields “day to day” and said the Bears would have a better picture of the quarterback’s capabilities by Wednesday. They also have a walk-through Tuesday before practicing Wednesday.
“Guys coming off of injury, it always comes down to the medical staff clearing them, how the player feels he can function in the game,” Eberflus said, “and then the coaches looking at it and saying, ‘Hey, yes, he could function at a high level and get the job done.’”
Rookie Tyson Bagent, who has made three starts in place of Fields, would start again if Fields can’t play. Bagent threw for 220 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 70 yards against the Saints. But he committed four turnovers — three in the fourth quarter — to give the game away.
“He played really well through three quarters and we’re excited where he is,” Eberflus said of Bagent. “He had 271 yards through three quarters in terms of passing and running, so we feel good where he is.
“But if Justin is available and functional, we will go with him. So we’ll see where it is.”
If Fields doesn’t play Thursday, he would have an extra nine days of recovery before the Bears play the Detroit Lions on Nov. 19.
In other injury news, the Bears designated running back Khalil Herbert, wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown and cornerback Josh Blackwell to return from injured reserve. They now have 21 days to add the players to the 53-man roster.
Herbert was the starter and had 51 carries for 272 yards (5.3 yards per carry) in five games before he injured his ankle. The Bears have relied on D’Onta Foreman, Roschon Johnson and Darrynton Evans while Herbert was out. Foreman had a heavy load Sunday, rushing for 83 yards on 20 carries.
Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, who missed Sunday’s game, is “day to day” with a knee injury. Cornerback Tyrique Stevenson, who came out of the game in the second half, was listed as a full participant Monday despite an ankle injury. Tight end Cole Kmet didn’t practice because of a knee injury.