CHICAGO (AP) — Justin Fields had a towel over his right hand as he walked to the locker room in the second half. His day was over.
What happens next could have a dramatic effect on the future of the Chicago Bears.
Fields left Sunday’s 19-13 loss to the Minnesota Vikings with a hand injury. The third-year quarterback got an X-ray that was negative.
“We’ll see where it is tomorrow when we get the MRI,” Chicago coach Matt Eberflus said. “That’s all I know right now.”
Fields got hurt with about 10 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. He tried to throw the ball away on a sack by Danielle Hunter, and it looked as if he might have landed awkwardly on his hand as he went down.
Chicago (1-5) punted on the next play, and Tyson Bagent was behind center when the Bears got the ball back.
Fields went 6 for 10 for 58 yards and threw an interception before he departed. He also had eight carries for 46 yards and was sacked four times.
“With him, he wanted to come back in the game,” Eberflus said. “That’s really all I have in terms of that. But he just couldn’t grip the ball to throw it right now. … We’ll know more information tomorrow, and that’s where it is.”
The 24-year-old Fields, who was selected by Chicago with the No. 11 pick in the 2021 draft, was coming off two of the best games of his career. He passed for 335 yards and four touchdowns in a 31-28 loss to Denver on Oct. 1, and then threw for four more TDs in a 40-20 victory at Washington on Oct. 5.
If Fields’ MRI comes back clean and he can return quickly, the Bears can resume their evaluation of the QB as they try to determine if he is their long-term answer at the position. If Fields is out for an extended stretch, it increases the likelihood the Bears could look elsewhere.
In addition to its 2024 first-round pick, Chicago also owns Carolina’s first-rounder, and the Panthers (0-6) are the league’s last winless team. The Bears could be in a prime position to grab one of the draft’s top quarterbacks if they decided to go that route.
The Bears also lost safety Eddie Jackson (foot) and right guard Nate Davis (ankle) to injuries. Eberflus said Jackson could have returned if the team needed him, and he said he will know more about Davis’ status on Monday.
Fields’ injury put Bagent in for his NFL debut. The 23-year-old Bagent went 10 for 14 for 83 yards. He also had a 1-yard TD run, but he committed two costly turnovers in front of a Soldier Field crowd of 62,167.
“I was excited to get out there,” Bagent said. “Obviously you (get) butterflies because you’re playing in front of so many people, and you know, the stakes are high in the NFL. But felt really prepared. Felt like the coaches did a good job of always preparing all the quarterbacks.”
Bagent signed with the team after he went undrafted following a record-setting career at Division II Shepherd University. He set the NCAA’s all-division record with 159 career touchdown passes while finishing with 17,034 yards. In 2021, Bagent won the Harlon Hill Trophy, Division II’s equivalent of the Heisman.
“From the start he was a confident guy, a talented, confident guy that goes out there and he lets it rip,” Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson said. “So, I mean, I didn’t expect anything different coming out there than him being confident and step up and continuing to do what he does.”
Bagent got off to a rough start when he was sacked and fumbled on his third play. Vikings linebacker Jordan Hicks picked up the ball and returned it 42 yards for a touchdown that made it 19-6 with 6:44 left in the third.
Bagent led Chicago on a touchdown drive in the fourth, but he also was intercepted by Byron Murphy Jr. when he underthrew a deep ball while trying to find DJ Moore late in the game.
“I thought he started out, was not great at first, right, but again, that’s everybody,” Eberflus said. “That’s 11 guys in there operating. But I think once he got settled down, he put that drive together, and then you could see what he can do.”
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