Justin Fields is on track to return to the field this weekend.
The Bears quarterback did not appear on Chicago's Friday injury report, essentially clearing the way for him to start Sunday versus NFC North rival Green Bay. Coach Matt Eberflus told reporters Friday that Fields, who's dealing with a left shoulder injury, appears to be on track to start as long as he doesn't experience a setback.
"If it keeps going the way it is the last two days, it's a green light," he said. "So that's what we're looking at."
Fields' anticipated backup, Trevor Siemian, will not be available for the rest of the season due to an oblique injury suffered in Week 12. Siemian elected to undergo season-ending surgery on the injury, Eberflus said, leaving Nathan Peterman as Fields' backup. Tim Boyle, who was signed this week off Detroit's practice squad, will serve as Chicago's third-string QB.
On the other sideline, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (ribs, right thumb) was removed from the injury report after being limited in practice the last two days and is expected to start in Chicago on Sunday, as well.
Fields sustained his shoulder injury in Chicago's loss to Atlanta in Week 11, forcing him to miss the Bears' Week 12 loss to the Jets. The week off was apparently enough for Fields to heal and prepare to play, though the decision to play Fields this week is an interesting one.
At 3-9, the Bears can't afford to lose again, or else they'll have to say goodbye to their slim playoff chances. It makes sense to welcome back Chicago's most explosive playmaker, especially for a rivalry game against the Packers.
Chicago's schedule, however, suggests it might be wiser to keep Fields on the bench with a bye week coming after Sunday's game. The quarterback's greatest value to the team is not rooted in the month ahead, but in the years to come. Based on the team's approach -- which is likely at least partially motivated by its current position -- Fields' injury might not be serious enough to require additional weeks off.
We'll find out Sunday when Fields attempts to lead Chicago to a win over its century-old rival.