Head coach Matt Eberflus announced Wednesday that Bagent will start Thursday night’s game against the Carolina Panthers at Soldier Field. Bagent has gone 1-2 as starter since taking over for the injured Justin Fields three weeks ago.
Bagent played well for 45 minutes of the Bears’ Week 9 loss to the New Orleans Saints before turning it over three times in the final quarter.
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“One hundred percent, yeah,” Bagent said Wednesday when asked if he was happy to get another opportunity to start. “I think that any time that a game doesn't turn out how you want it to I'm almost just more eager to get back out there and kind of flip the script on that. So definitely thankful for every opportunity I get.”
In four games (three starts), Bagent has thrown for 697 yards, three touchdowns, and six interceptions while completing 67.3 percent of his passes.
Bagent has done a lot of good things for a rookie, but he is still adapting to the speed of the game. Something he gets more comfortable handling with every snap.
“I think that's what everybody has to adjust to is just not only are you playing against physical specimens but you're also playing against dudes who don't really make mistakes either,” Bagent said. “So, you've just got to be that much sharper and on top of what you're trying to accomplish.
“I just think you have to think smoother and faster than you ever have before.”
Fields has missed the past three games after dislocating his right thumb in the Bears’ Week 6 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
The third-year quarterback returned to practice in a limited capacity last Friday. Fields has been wearing glove on his throwing hand to take some pressure off his still-healing thumb when he grips the ball. However, Fields was not wearing a glove during the media-viewing portion of Wednesday’s practice.
Fields was a limited participant in Wednesday’s practice and is listed as doubtful for Thursday night’s game.
“He’s progressing every day,” Eberflus said Wednesday of Fields. “He is not medically cleared yet.”
Eberflus said the Bears wanted to give Fields “one more day,” but there are still hurdles to clear for the quarterback to be cleared to return to play.
“He’s got to be cleared to play with the medical staff, and so, it’s really about him feeling good about it and the medical staff saying that he can go in there and function, and he’s just not there at this time,” Eberflus said.
“It’s everything. It’s all. It’s just all improving,” Eberflus later said when asked what is keeping Fields from being cleared. “The grip strength, the accuracy, the ability to function as a quarterback. It’s all right there. It’s getting close.”
Quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko said that once Fields is cleared to play by the training staff, the coaching staff will have to determine if Fields will be able to execute all the throws required with a less than 100 percent thumb.
“What is his pain tolerance? Is he getting back to where he is? Is his rhythm there? Is it coming off his hands smoothly?” Janocko said Tuesday. “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 short turnaround for Thursday night football hurt Fields’ prospects of returning this week.
Eberflus said it’s a “possibility” that Fields could have started this week if the Bears were playing the Panthers on Sunday.
After Thursday’s game, the Bears will give players a three-day weekend before returning to Halas Hall on Monday to begin preparation for the Detroit Lions in Week 11.
However, the Bears don’t want Fields taking a break from his rehab during the mini-bye week. They feel that the arrow is pointing up and that a final push could see him get back for next week’s game at Ford Field.
“I think he keeps ramping up,” Eberflus said of Fields’ schedule for the mini-bye week. “He’s just going to keep ramping up and getting his throws in and getting everything in.”