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Stoic Justin Fields Accepts News, Gets to Work

Not much fazes Bears quarterback Justin Fields and hasn't since he was a junior in high school, so Matt Nagy's news about starting against Cleveland was stoically accepted.

When he first quarterbacked Harrison High School in Kennesaw, Georgia, Justin Fields probably wouldn't have believed what happened on Wednesday at Halas Hall was possible.

Coach Matt Nagy announced Fields as starter for Sunday's game in Cleveland due to Andy Dalton's bone bruise to his left knee, and even through his usual stoic persona Fields had to admit it's all a bit shocking in the grand scheme of things.

"It means a lot," Fields said. "Of course, if you told me 7-8 years ago that I'd be in this position, I probably wouldn't believe you, but I think, as time went along, I got more comfortable. I guess my goals kind of got bigger and bigger.

"Of course I'm here. Around this time last year, I had an idea that I could be in this position right now, so actually seeing myself in this position, being able to get the start on Sunday, it's amazing."

Seven or eight years ago he was a different athlete, much less confident and he admits much less even-keeled in the huddle and playing the game.

"I used to not be this way," Fields said. "I definitely learned from past experiences, past first starts.

"I still remember my first start in high school, I was nervous as can be. I think being more this way just being stoic and being even-keeled, I think that just keeps my mind calm and allows me to think more."

It's this ability to handle pressure situations that the Bears and Fields have pointed to as indicators he can handle the job of not only starting against Cleveland as Andy Dalton's injury replacement, but also at some point soon against every opponent as the team's full-time starter.

"You see it in his demeanor and his mannerisms," coach Matt Nagy said. "He's somebody that that's a strength of his. It's also, too, when a good play happens, like when he had that touchdown run, he's able to be able to stay nice and calm.

"So I like that about him. I think that's gonna be a strength for him as he moves forward and continues to learn as day, with every game that he's in."

Fields saw this ability to block all else out developing about the time he was beginning to dream big.

"I would say probably junior year in high school is when I finally got confidence in myself and stuff like that," Fields said. "I think that's where just the whole story changed."

It changed with a realization.

"I mean, I think my mindset has been like whatever's going to happen is going to happen so there's no reason for you to be nervous about," Fields said. "If it doesn't go your way, it doesn't go your way. But in the past, where I was nervous and it didn't go my way, I looked back on the situation and I wish I would had just said, 'you know, I didn't go out there and throw every ball the way I should've,' and stuff like that rather than second-guessed myself."

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This happened rather dramatically for him then, and he threw for 4,187 yards with 41 touchdowns and ran for 2,096 yards with 28 touchdowns in high school, before going first to Georgia and then to Ohio State.

Now it's back to the state of Ohio, where he says there hasn't been an inordinate demand for tickets from friends or family. This could change.

"I think I'm ready," Fields said. "I've been preparing for this moment for a long time. My mindset doesn't change. I'm still going to have to play my football and just prepare the best I can."

It's not Fields' job for good and he knows it. Matt Nagy made this much clear. Then again, there was this guy named Wally Pipp once.

"I've talked about it the entire time that we're not going to get into that what-if game," Nagy said. "We do want to see, like when Justin is out here and like he's been doing in practice as a look-team (QB) trying to be the best quarterback he can be, all we want right now, that's all Andy and Justin want, is to be the best they can be.

"When that time comes, there's a lot of stuff that can happen between now and then. I don't really want to go there other than just saying when Andy is healthy, he's our starter."

When Nagy told Fields he was getting this start, the reaction was much like anyone would expect who has witnessed the quarterback's unflappable nature.

'He was pretty stoic," Nagy said. "I think you (media) guys can probably all imagine how he was. He's a guy that has a lot of confidence in himself in a good way. 

"It rubs off onto his teammates, to his coaches. You feel it, you understand it, you appreciate it. He was pretty stoic."

Nagy imparted some coaching wisdom on his starter for the week.

"Don't try to be out there and be a hero, just go out there and play," Nagy said. "Play football.

"Be a great quarterback for this game and see where it takes you the rest of the year."

It's already taken him places he never imagined seven or eight years ago.

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