Monday, November 28, 2022

The Bears lose a veteran for the season over Justin Fields concerns

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The Chicago Bears are closing veteran offensive lineman Lucas Patrick for the remainder of the 2022 season after he recently underwent season-ending toe surgery, according to head coach Matt Eberflus.

The Bears placed Patrick on injured reserve on Oct. 27 after he was thrown off the field with a toe injury in their Week 7 win against the New England Patriots. While he would have been eligible for reactivation ahead of the Week 12 matchup against the New York Jets, Eberflus confirmed that would happen for the remainder of the year.

“He actually had surgery a few weeks ago and won’t be with us again this year,” Eberflus told reporters Nov. 23. “He was at every meeting, was engaged. He had the toe injury and we ended up surgically fixing that, but he’s been engaged for the last couple of weeks, he’s going well [on the mental side]but yes.”

Patrick had made his first start at center for the Bears during the game in which he injured his toe. While Chicago originally eyed him for the training camp role, he broke his hand in one of the early practice sessions and needed time to let it heal before the Bears were confident of quickly handing him responsibility. Still, he played about 250 snaps between right and left guards before earning the center nod and was a valuable member of the rotation at each of the three inside points.

With Patrick’s return now certain not to happen in 2022, the Bears will need to keep things working at center with Sam Mustipher for the remainder of the season. According to Pro Football Focus, the center has been playing much better in terms of pass protection in the fourth year since Patrick’s injury, conceding just three pressings and no sacks in his last five appearances after ten pressings and one sack in his first six games of the season.

While Patrick’s loss for the remainder of the season isn’t much of a revelation, the bigger injury news Wednesday was the status of starting quarterback Justin Fields and the non-throwing shoulder he injured in the Week 11 loss to the Atlanta Falcons would have.

There have been conflicting reports of how badly Fields injured his shoulder when he was pulled out of the game in the first game of their final drive against the Falcons. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport Initially, Fields reported dislocating his non-throwing shoulder, however ESPN’s Adam Schefter denied the report and said he had been told the injury was “not a dislocation” – which was worse than a severed shoulder.

Unfortunately for curious fans, Eberflus didn’t go into the details of Fields’ injury when he spoke to the media on Wednesday, but he said Fields had been cleared for practice and was considered a restricted participant in the day’s injury report.

“Justin stays day after day,” Eberflus said on Wednesday. “He was released for practice today and as it’s a walkthrough, the [injury report] Estimate is that it would be limited in practice, so it’s there right now. And again, we’ll be evaluating that throughout the week. He’s feeling pretty good and we’ll see how it goes from day to day.”

Eberflus also shed some light on the status of right guard Teven Jenkins and why they benched him in favor of Michael Schofield III against the Falcons. Jenkins had come on as questionable with a hip injury, but he appeared ready to return to the lineup after not being included in the pre-game inactives. Instead, Jenkins watched the game from the bench and didn’t play a single snap, leaving fans at a loss as to why he was even active if he couldn’t play.

It turns out Jenkins could and would have played if a backup was needed, but the Bears were worried about giving him his full-time duties back after he teased his hip more severely during the week of practice.

“Teven worked all week and got worse as the week progressed,” Eberflus said on Wednesday. “It went to where he would rotate, then he would be a backup. So the player thought he was there, the medical staff thought it was and that’s where we put him. He was there to be available for us – when we needed him.”



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