The Bears plunged head first into a week when they'll face the team with the NFL's best record but can't say yet who their quarterback will be for the matchup with the Arizona Cardinals at Soldier Field.
The status for quarterback Justin Fields doesn't look good even though nothing concrete has been said at this point other than coach Matt Nagy initially revealing his QB had cracked ribs, then on Monday calling them "broken" ribs.
Cracked or broken involves a break, and it's much worse than bruised ribs. It tends to make just one full game missed seem less likely.
"When he's healthy he's the starter," Nagy said. "Again, I think every person not just quarterback, but every person probably handles an injury or coming back from an injury differently. Some are able to do it and get through it. Others may think about it more.
"So I think with Justin, he's super tough and I think I know which side he's on."
Asked if Fields had been given clearance to practice yet, Nagy said, "Again, we're working through all that."
Fields suffered the injury in the game with Baltimore Nov. 21 and sat out on Thanksgiving at Detroit. In his case, it's possible it could take longer before he gets clearance to play because he moves so much and has the ball more as a running quarterback. It leaves him susceptible to hits and then a long-term stay by backup Andy Dalton as the starter.
"Well, you know, once we get the OK from these trainers and doctors and players in any role that they're good to go, then you always know that and you're like, 'Ok, we're rolling now,' right?" Nagy said. "But at the same point in time to your question, you've got to be cognizant of not taking the extra hits or vulnerability."
Caution will be the key word as they examine whether to let a running quarterback risk further rib damage.
"It's definitely something we want to look into, but whether it's—the throwing part of it, too, not always just the running part," Nagy said. "Just making sure when you drop back there and you go to throw, sometimes you expose your chest or your ribs.
"All that said, we put all that together and we do what’s best for him and for us."