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Is Rushing Back Worth Justin Fields' Risk?

With a separated shoulder and ligament damage to his non-throwing shoulder, Justin Fields must weigh his future against winning one game in a 3-8 season.

The Bears know what Justin Fields' left shoulder problem is.

The issue is whether his separated left shoulder and ligament damage can repair sufficiently by Sunday to allow him to play against the New York Jets.

"It's a separated shoulder with partially torn ligaments," Fields said Wednesday. "Basically, like an AC joint. That's my understanding of it."

The shoulder gives him pain when he throws. Fortunately for Fields, there wasn't a great deal of throwing on Wednesday because the Bears had scaled back to a walk-through practice, and on Thursday have a light practice.

Their only more extensive practice will come Friday and it could be that one which determines whether Fields plays.

Or, it could come Sunday if he feels up to taking a pain-killing shot in the shoulder, although doing this seems rather pointless when the Bears are 3-8 and going nowhere this year.

"I just feel like if I can play and that I'm not furthering the risk of injury and I can do what I need to do to be able to protect myself, I think that'll be good enough for me to play," Fields said.

Fields was asked if he could have played Wednesday, had the game been that day.

"Today, probably not, but good thing we don't play today," he said. "We play in four days. So we'll see how it feels in four days."

He'll take some treatment, stretching and rehab in the next few days and hope for the best.

"The pain is pretty high today just with throwing and stuff like that, finishing throws, just the pain with that," Fields said. "I'm just going to work throughout the week to get that motion down, try to get that pain down a little bit and see what happens Friday night, Saturday. See how it goes."

Fields was designated as having gone through a limited practice on Wednesday. The Bears had only a walk-through but they're required to give out a condition for the injury report even with no actual practice.

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"We'll see where it goes," coach Matt Eberflus said. "We'll see tomorrow. It will be more of a faster pace, we’ll see when he’s moving full speed during that time, during the drill work and stuff like that. We’ll be able to tell."

The chance of making the injury worse is a matter the training staff and doctors must consider before giving an OK to play in the game.

"I think whenever you hurt something, you always have a chance to re-aggravate it, you know?" Eberflus said. "It could be, you know, an ankle, a knee, or whatever it might be. That's part of the game, right?"

Fields hasn't battled a shoulder injury before but recalled how he had cracked ribs and a partially torn hip muscle for the national championship game and still played for Ohio State.

"I mean, you get a big game like that, that's the last game of the year," Fields said. "I've got to damn near die for me to not play in that one."

This Sunday the Bears merely are trying to avoid a five-game losing streak and 3-9 record.

"Once he's cleared through the medical staff, that's the No. 1 thing that has to happen," Eberflus said. "And then once the player says 'yes, I'm good to go,' and then the last hurdle is, or the last thing you have to say is, 'OK' because of who this guy is, is he really, truly ready to go?

"But once the medical staff says he's cleared, that's what their job is, he's cleared to go. Then we've got to decide, can he go full speed? Can he operate? That's like anything else. Like, we had an injury a couple weeks ago with a defensive back (Jaylon Johnson). It's like, can he go full speed and can he operate? And that's up to the player and the coaches' eye."

Being risky with a 3-8 record hardly seems to be worthwhile if a player's health is at risk. Eberflus, the staff and players can't

"Really, the reason is because we're trying to win, want to win the game," Eberflus said. "There's a lot of great things to getting the experience of playing a game, every single game we can. That's an important part to this season."


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