LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Justin Fields deserves a lot of credit for ignoring the gamesmanship his head coach deals in and telling it straight. The Bears quarterback is injured. He has a separated left shoulder with "partially torn" ligaments.
That's the injury, straight from Fields. No middle man needed.
The 23-year-old quarterback walked to the dais at Halas Hall on Wednesday and told it like it is. He was honest about how much pain he is in and how the injury impacts his ability to play quarterback as the Bears prepare to face the New York Jets on Sunday.
"It’s just different motions of me handing off the ball, throwing," Fields said Wednesday when asked where he feels pain. "When I’m finishing my throw, I’m feeling it pretty much every throw. Again, it’s just me going through those motions, getting it stronger and seeing how it feels come Saturday or Sunday."
It's not just the pain, though. The second-year signal-caller also feels the separated non-throwing shoulder impacts his mechanics, a point he first brought up after suffering the injury last Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.
"The pain is pretty high today just with throwing and stuff like that, finishing throws, just the pain with that. 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 said he would "probably not" be able to play a game if he had to Wednesday. He is hopeful that will change in the next four days.
The young quarterback understands the short-term versus long-term view when determining if he plays Sunday against one of the best pass rushes in the NFL. If he feels like he can play, protect himself, and won't risk further injury, he will be on the field Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
"Of course I’m not going to sacrifice playing in this game for me risking that I might not be able to play later in games," Fields said. "I’m not going to have to sacrifice playing in this game, and now I get hurt and I have to sit out two or three more weeks after that. Again, just seeing how my body feels, listening to my body and making sure I’m not forcing anything and stuff like that. Just seeing how it goes."
Even if Fields can play, it's best for all parties involved if the Bears sit the quarterback Sunday in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
But that doesn't seem to be how the Bears plan to approach things with Fields. If the medical staff, Fields, and coaching staff all give him the green light, he will play against the Jets.
“I would just say that if he’s ready to play, he’s going to play," head coach Matt Eberflus said. "He feels that way, we feel that way. If he’s ready to go, feels good about it, he’s going to play the game. Really, the reason is because we’re trying to win. We want to win the game. 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.”
Fields continues to be listed as day-to-day by the Bears. He is cleared to practice and labeled as a limited participant during Wednesday's walk-through. Eberflus said the plan is to ramp Fields up Thursday and Friday and see where things stand.
There are a lot of hurdles for Fields to clear before playing Sunday. But in the end, it might come down to a conversation between the quarterback and his coach about what he can do and what he wants to do.
"Coach Flus pretty much said it was up to me, they want the best thing for me," Fields said. "So he said if I feel that I can play, if I feel that I can go out there and protect myself and stuff like that, then I’ll be able to go. I’m just going to see how it feels each and every day and play it by ear."