LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Justin Fields' return must wait another week.
The Bears' starting quarterback is working his way back from a dislocated right thumb. Fields was limited all week in practice and is listed as doubtful for Thursday night's game against the Carolina Panthers at Soldier Field.
"He is progressing every day," head coach Matt Eberflus said Wednesday of Fields. "He is not medically cleared yet."
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Fields has had no setbacks in his rehab, according to Eberflus.
“It’s everything," Eberflus said when asked what Fields still needs to improve to be cleared. "It’s all. It’s just all improving. The grip strength, the accuracy, the ability to function as a quarterback. It’s all right there. It’s getting close.”
Fields returned to practice Friday and threw with a glove on to relieve the pressure from his still-healing thumb.
Even when he is "medically cleared" to return, the Bears' staff will have to take several factors into account before giving him the greenlight to start.
"Comfortable," quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko said Tuesday. "What is his pain tolerance? Is he getting back to where he is? Is his rhythm there? Is it coming off his hands smoothly? And what’s the ball look like when it’s coming out? Is it coming out with any flap at all or is it coming out nice and smooth and looks like him?"
The Bears will have nine days off between Thursday's game and the Week 11 game against the Lions in Detroit. They will get the weekend off after the Panthers game before returning to practice next Wednesday. Eberflus said Fields will continue to throw during the mini-bye week.
"I think he keeps ramping up," Eberflus said of what Fields will do during the mini-bye. "He’s just going to keep ramping up and getting his throws in and getting everything in."
Eberflus said there was a "good possibility" the short week impacted Fields' ability to play against the Panthers.
With Fields still needing time to heal, undrafted rookie Tyson Bagent will make his fourth straight start Thursday.
The Bears are 1-2 in Bagent's three starts. In four games (three starts), Bagent has thrown for 697 yards, three touchdowns, and six interceptions while completing 67.3 percent of his passes.