Wed Oct 13 7:02pm ET
By GENE CHAMBERLAIN
Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) runs off the field after the Chicago Bears defeated the Las Vegas Raiders in an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) Playing a bitter rival is nothing new for Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields.
Facing the Green Bay Packers with first place on the line Sunday at Soldier Field in one of the NFL's oldest rivalries has some similarities to the annual Michigan and Ohio State matchup, so Fields feels ready in this regard.
''I mean, a rivalry game, it's big,'' Fields said. ''I've been in the position before. I wouldn't say it totally prepares me for this, but I have a pretty good idea of what a big rivalry game looks like.''
Fields' experience at Ohio State against Michigan comes from just one game his junior year, but it was a memorable one. He completed 14 of 25 for 302 yards and four touchdowns in a 56-27 Buckeyes' win. The pandemic wiped out his chance to face Michigan again as a senior.
His best memories of it extended beyond just winning.
''Trash talk before the game, in warmups, fans talking trash and stuff like that, I always enjoyed that,'' Fields said. ''Hearing what they say, and the nonsense coming out of their mouths always gave me a good laugh before the game.
''I mean, yeah, just the competition that goes with it. Just the excitement, and just the competition and stuff like that.''
The excitement will be different this time because he's squaring off against Aaron Rodgers for the first time. The Packers have a 21-5 record against the Bears with Rodgers starting.
''I'm excited,'' Fields said. ''Of course he's a Hall of Fame quarterback. He's a great quarterback. He's been playing since as long as I can remember.
''I know it's gonna be a good matchup between him and our defense. Our defense has been playing well. I'm excited to see him play.''
Fields was 9 years old when Rodgers made his first NFL start in his third season in 2008 with Green Bay, and he has developed an appreciation for the Packers quarterback's playing style.
''I just like how he's always in rhythm when he plays the game,'' Fields said. ''That's a piece of his game that I try to emulate in mine.''
Fields had an individual rivalry in college with Clemson's Trevor Lawrence but calls this different.
''Of course me and Trevor faced off a couple times in college,'' Fields said. ''To be honest, I don't look at it as a matchup between me and Aaron like I didn't look at it as a matchup back then between me and Trevor.
''I'm simply doing whatever I need to do to help my team win. If that's hand the ball off 80 times during a game or throw for however so many yards, that's what I'm going to do. I'm not worried about comparisons between touchdowns, stats. I'm worried about winning. That's it.''
The Bears no doubt would like to see Fields' passing game emulate some of Rodgers' success.
Although they have gained some momentum with two straight wins, their rookie quarterback has been helped along by a revived defense that is now ranked eighth in the NFL, and a running game prospering even without injured running back David Montgomery.
When Damien Williams and Khalil Herbert both had more than 15 carries against the Raiders in a 20-9 victory on Sunday, it marked the first time since 2010 the Bears had two backs make 15 or more carries in a game. The result was 143 rushing yards.
''You have more of those 4, 5, 6, 7s (yards) than we've had in the past where at times there's been 1s and 2s,'' Bears coach Matt Nagy said. ''And so I think that helps out your second down, which can help out your third down. And that's just a total compliment to the players and the coaches for really creating that identity.''
Fields has struggled with consistency, like most rookie passers. He has completed 51.4% (37 of 72) for 458 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. He has a 64.5 passer rating.
''I think we have a good feel of who he is and how he's growing each week,'' Nagy said. ''I think we feel good about that and how we can continue to help grow him.''
NOTES: Fields suffered knee and rib injuries in the game Sunday and left briefly before returning. He went through a full practice on Wednesday and was removed from the injury report. ... The Bears were without outside linebacker Khalil Mack (foot), wide receiver Allen Robinson (ankle) and defensive end Akiem Hicks (groin) at Wednesday's practice.
Miami Dolphins WR DeVante Parker (shoulder, hamstring) appears to be facing an uphill battle to play in Week 7's game against the Atlanta Falcons, according to a source.
Fantasy Spin: Parker had been listed as questionable on the injury report after being a limited participant in all three of the team's practice sessions throughout the week. If he is declared active for the game, he could be viewed as a flex option in fantasy leagues, although owners should have alternatives available in the event that he misses this afternoon's contest.
Detroit Lions QB Jared Goff is not in danger of losing his job as the team's starting quarterback to QB David Blough, according to multiple sources.
Fantasy Spin: Goff has only thrown two touchdown passes in his last four games and has not reached the 300-yard passing mark since the season opener. With few offensive playmakers on the roster, he should be avoided in most fantasy leagues.
New York Giants wide receiver John Ross (hamstring) is likely to suit up for Sunday's outing against the Panthers. Ross has been dealing with a hamstring issue, although he managed to practice sparingly on Thursday and Friday, which is always a good sign regarding a player's anticipated availability. The former Bengal received an uptick in snaps over the last few weeks. However, with Darius Slayton (hamstring) andEvan Engram (calf) expected to play, andSterling Shepard (hamstring) labeled as a game-time call, Ross should be avoided in all fantasy formats in Week 8.
Miami Dolphins CB Xavien Howard (shoulder, groin) is expected to play in Week 7's game against the Atlanta Falcons. He was listed as questionable on the injury report after being a limited practice participant throughout the week.
Although Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (calf) is unlikely to participate in a light practice session when the team returns from their bye Monday, Oct. 25, he could resume practicing Wednesday, Oct. 27, according to multiple sources. The team is optimistic that he will be able to start Week 8's game against the Minnesota Vikings.
Fantasy Spin: Although Prescott should be started in all fantasy formats when healthy, he makes a somewhat risky option for Week 8 because the Dallas-Minnesota contest will be the Sunday Night Football matchup, which would leave many owners in a bind if he is declared inactive at the last minute. Fantasy owners should check back for frequent updates throughout the week on Prescott's status at practice.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (calf) has been progressing in the right direction after being injured during the Week 6 matchup against the New England Patriots. Prescott spent most of his bye week in the pool, and he should be ready to practice by Wednesday. Nonetheless, fantasy managers should continue to monitor his status and await his official designation ahead of the Week 8 outing in Minnesota.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (ankle) is out for Week 7 versus the Panthers. However, while he has a slight chance to make it back for Monday Night Football against the Kansas City Chiefs, fantasy managers realistically shouldn't expect him back until Week 9 versus the Oakland Raiders. Nonetheless, until Barkley is ready to return, Devontae Booker will likely continue to handle duties out of the backfield and has plenty of appeal in all formats.
Washington Football Team QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (hip) is still relying on crutches to get around and is not close to returning to action, according to multiple sources. He is expected to undergo an MRI exam in the next few weeks and appears unlikely to return before the team's Week 9 bye on Nov. 7.
Fantasy Spin: Fitzpatrick's rehab process has not moved as quickly as initially hoped and there is a possibility that he won't return to the field this season. Taylor Heinicke will continue to serve as Washington's No. 1 quarterback in the interim and can be a starting option in two-quarterback fantasy leagues.
San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo will start Week 7's game against the Indianapolis Colts.
Fantasy Spin: Garoppolo had been sidelined recently because of a calf injury but is no longer listed on the team's injury report after logging two limited practice sessions and one full session during the week. Although he won't have to worry about sharing offensive snaps with injured QB Trey Lance (knee) this weekend, Garoppolo is only worthy of being a starting option in two-quarterback fantasy leagues.
New York Giants TE Evan Engram (calf) is expected to play in Week 7's game against the Carolina Panthers, according to a source.
Fantasy Spin: Engram had been listed as questionable on the injury report after missing practice Thursday, Oct. 21, and participating in a limited practice session Friday, Oct. 22. If he is declared active for the game, he should be viewed as a low-end TE1 option in deeper fantasy leagues.
New York Giants WR Sterling Shepard (hamstring) is considered a game-time decision for Week 7's game against the Carolina Panthers, according to a source.
Fantasy Spin: Shepard sustained a hamstring injury during practice Thursday, Oct. 21, and was officially designated as questionable after participating in the following day's practice session on a limited basis. If he is declared active, he should be viewed as a WR3 or flex option for fantasy leagues.
New York Giants tight end Evan Engram (calf) and wide receiver Darius Slayton (hamstring) are likely to play Sunday against the Panthers. ESPN's Adam Schefter notes that the two should be good to go unless they suffer a setback in pre-game warmups. Engram and Slayton have had limited roles so far- but could be pivotal players against Carolina with the Giants already down Saquon Barkley (ankle), Kenny Golladay (knee), and Kadarius Toney (ankle). The Panthers have a stingy pass defense, ranking seventh in pass DVOA, though Engram and Slayton could see enough volume to make an impact this week.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker (shoulder, hamstring), listed as questionable, is looking iffy for Sunday's game against the Falcons. Parker seemed to take a step in the right direction, as he was a limited participant at practice after not taking the field for any sessions the previous week. Fellow wideout Preston Williams (groin) is also questionable for the contest. If Parker misses another game, look for rookie Jaylen Waddle, coming off of a 10-catch, 70-yard, two-touchdown game, to command a large number of targets once again in an excellent matchup against Atlanta. Mike Gesicki should also continue to see his fair share of work in the passing game. Both are strong plays Sunday.
Washington Football Team running back Antonio Gibson (shin), dealing with a nagging injury, is expected to suit up Sunday against the Packers. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Gibson was dealing with a hairline fracture in his shin earlier in the year, an injury that seemed to pop back up during last week's contest. Bothered by the injury, the star halfback has yet to exceed the 100-yard scrimmage mark since Week 3- though he does have three touchdowns in his last three games played. Gibson remains in starting territory thanks to his talent and a favorable matchup against a Packers defense that ranks 30th in rush DVOA. He will likely continue to be more touchdown-dependent than usual.
Philadelphia Eagles LB Genard Avery was fined $5,111 by the National Football League for getting in the face of Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Leonard Fournette late in Week 6's game and taking a critical penalty.
Los Angeles Rams RB Sony Michel (shoulder) is expected to play in Week 7's game against the Detroit Lions, according to head coach Sean McVay.
Fantasy Spin: Michel had been listed as questionable on the injury report after logging two limited practice sessions during the week. He should see a decent number of offensive snaps this afternoon and can be considered as a flex option in deeper fantasy leagues.
Jacksonville Jaguars S Rayshawn Jenkins was fined $10,300 by the National Football League for his actions in Week 6's game against the Miami Dolphins.
There is optimism that Tennessee Titans WR Julio Jones (hamstring) will play in Week 7's game against the Kansas City Chiefs, according to a source.
Fantasy Spin: Jones had been listed as questionable on the injury report after logging two limited practice sessions during the week. Despite the favorable matchup against the Kansas City defense, he should be viewed as a risky WR3 or flex option in fantasy leagues.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Julio Jones (hamstring) expressed optimism that he would be ready to play against Kansas City, with NFL Network's Ian Rapoport noting that that is the team's expectation. Jones suffered a hamstring injury a few weeks ago, sidelining him for two games- though he aggravated the injury during his team's win over the Bills on Monday night. Still, it seems like Jones, who will take on a Chiefs defense that ranks 31st in pass DVOA, will be out there for a big game Sunday. His recent injury track record makes him a risky play, but it could pay off if Sunday's game becomes high-scoring.