Justin Fields is back.
The Bears’ rookie quarterback was cleared by doctors this week and will start Sunday night in Green Bay, Bears head coach Matt Nagy said Wednesday.
Fields has missed the last two games after suffering fractured ribs Nov. 21 against the Baltimore Ravens. Nagy said Fields’ ribs are fully healed, which will allow him to practice without limitations this week, but the quarterback also indicated he's not pain-free yet.
"I know there's gonna be pain there but I mean, it is what it is. You have three cracked ribs, of course there's gonna be pain," Fields said Wednesday. "As long as it's just not crazy pain where I can't bear it, I'm gonna play and practice."
The No. 2 quarterback situation is a little more murky. Andy Dalton suffered an injury to his non-throwing hand while making a tackle following the second of four interceptions Sunday against the Cardinals. Nagy said Dalton will not practice Wednesday, but would not go into details about the severity of that injury. If Dalton isn’t cleared to be Fields’ backup against the Packers, Nick Foles would serve as the No. 2 quarterback for the fifth time this season.
Fields was making immense progress in his development before suffering the ribs injury last month. He played very well in games against the 49ers and Steelers before the Bears’ bye week. He was struggling against the Ravens, but it’s unclear when the injury occurred. Eventually he left the game and was replaced by Dalton.
"I still don't know. I don't even think it happened (on that last play) because I didn't get hit that hard, so I think it happened before that last play when I came off," Fields said Wednesday. "I tried to get up and run and it was hurting to run. I'm not even sure what play it happened on."
This is the second ribs injury for Fields in the last calendar year. He played through a significant ribs injury in Ohio State’s loss to Alabama in January’s National Championship Game and said Wednesday that was "way worse, by far." Fields revealed that injury also involved his hip.
"I had to sit out after the season probably four or five weeks," he said. "I just didn't do anything to let it fully heal. But again, that was way worse."
Fields said he would wear some extra protection over his ribs in Sunday's game, but added that he usually does that anyway.