The Chicago Bears will have Justin Fields back at quarterback Sunday against the Detroit Lions for a stretch of games that could be critical to his future with the team.
Coach Matt Eberflus announced the move following four missed starts by Fields because of a right dislocated thumb.
A decision on Fields’ fifth-year contract option is due next spring and the Bears can use this seven-week stretch to help decide if they want to go forward with Fields or possibly use one of their two first-round draft picks on a quarterback.
Fields threw four touchdown passes in back-to-back starts against the Denver Broncos and Washington Commanders, then was struggling in a 19-13 loss to the Minnesota Vikings when he suffered the thumb injury. He has a career-best passer rating of 91.6 to go with 11 touchdown passes and six interceptions, while completing a career-best 61.7% of passes (100 of 162).
He started the season struggling for three games in losses to Green Bay, Tampa Bay and Kansas City before improving in his starts in a win over the Commanders and loss to the Broncos.
Fields said the thumb isn’t entirely 100% but is good enough. His passing won’t be affected.
Fields felt ready to return before last Thursday’s Carolina game but was held out.
The Bears are also making offensive line changes with players returning to health. Right guard Nate Davis is back from an ankle injury and replacement Teven Jenkins is moving back to his starting spot at left guard. As a result, long-time starting guard and center Cody Whitehair will be benched. Lucas Patrick will remain at center.
Whitehair has played and started in 117 games since coming to the Bears in the second round of the 2016 draft. He made the Pro Bowl in 2018 at center.
Eberflus also said fullback Khari Blasingame is returning from a concussion.