Wed, 01 Feb 2023

Larry Mayer

Bears quarterback Justin Fields is ranked 21st on ESPN.com's list of the NFL's top 25 players under the age of 25.

Before missing last Sunday's game against the Jets with a left shoulder injury, the 23-year-old was fifth in the NFL in rushing with 834 yards and seven touchdowns on 122 carries. Fields has also passed for 1,642 yards with 13 TDs, eight interceptions and an 86.2 passer rating.

In his last five games, the Ohio State product has accounted for 15 touchdowns, rushing for 552 yards and six TDs on 68 carries and throwing for 773 yards with nine TDs, three interceptions and a 92.0 passer rating.

"The hottest up-and-coming quarterback in the league this season, Fields has become a true dual-threat for the Bears," wrote ESPN's Matt Miller.

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Leading the way: With the Bears roster decimated by injuries, coach Matt Eberflus regularly communicates with players to gauge team morale.

Key veterans Darnell Mooney and Eddie Jackson sustained season-ending injuries last Sunday against the Jets, Fields continues to recover from his shoulder injury, and top rookie draft picks Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker remain in concussion protocol.

"I have one-on-one conversations with pretty much everybody on the team," Eberflus said. "I have a leadership council that I worked with [Wednesday] morning. We talk, we meet for 20 minutes. Many times because I'm here early, guys come in early, I'm talking to guys one-on-one. The one-on-one conversations are big. They're important because you can look at a man in the eye and talk face-to-face, man-to-man. I think that's an important piece to leadership. I think it's an important piece to making sure the team morale is the right way, and really focusing on that is the way we do it."

Impressive rookie: Eberflus has been pleased with the progress that left tackle Braxton Jones has made throughout his rookie season. The fifth-round pick from Southern Utah joined the No. 1 offense during the offseason program and has started all 12 games so far this season.

"It's good, the maturity level, No. 1, for a rookie to be able to play that tackle position the entire year and his ability to run block, pass block," Eberflus said. "Does he need to improve? Sure. All the rookies need to improve. Everyone needs to get better. But he's improving. He's getting better. He's showing his maturity."

On the shelf: Eberflus confirmed Wednesday that Jackson will miss the rest of the season after suffering a Lisfranc injury in his foot late in the first half last Sunday against the Jets.

"Eddie's done for the year," Eberflus said. "We don't know [if he'll need] surgery or not. We'll have to wait and see when he sees the doctor, but we'll get that squared away."

Jackson leads the Bears defense in four key statistical categories with 61 tackles, four interceptions, six pass breakups and two forced fumbles-and he's currently the top vote-getter among NFC free safeties for the Pro Bowl.

Familiar foe: Aaron Rodgers exited Green Bay's loss to the Eagles last Sunday night with an injury to his ribs. But the Packers star quarterback said Tuesday that he intends to start Sunday against the Bears.

"I got good news with the scans yesterday," Rodgers said on The Pat McAfee Show. "So I plan on playing this week."

That's hardly a surprise to Eberflus, who told reporters Wednesday that the Bears are "presuming that is the case" and "we'll be preparing for Aaron."

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