The Chicago Bears host the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night in a game that is significant in terms of draft positioning.
If the NFL season ended today, the Bears would have two of the top three selections in the 2024 NFL Draft as the team holds the rights to the Panthers’ first-round selection. The Panther’s first-round selection currently slots in at second overall while the Bears’ first-round selection falls in right behind at third overall.
For the Bears, the goal for the rest of the season would be to secure the draft position to take their next answer at the quarterback position. Under current projections, the Bears would likely take North Carolina’s Drake Maye with the second overall selection but the team likely wants a path to selecting Caleb Williams with the first over selection.
The likelihood is that the Bears will get to first overall through the use of the Panthers’ first-round pick and that would be the reason why there is a need for a win on Thursday.
The Bears’ chance of winning significantly improve if Justin Fields can return from the dislocated right thumb injury that has forced him to miss the past three weeks.
Injury Status for Chicago Bears starting quarterback Justin Fields.
With the Bears having a Thursday night game, the week schedule is accelerated and the team released the first injury report for the game on Monday.
When Bears head coach Matt Eberflus spoke with reporters on Monday, he did indicate that Fields had been elevated to a day-to-day status when he was previously considered week-to-week.
The Bears will have a condensed practice on Wednesday and that likely will be the closest evaluation that the team will have in terms of being able to determine whether or not Fields is ready to go.
Khalil Herbert designated to return from IR.
Chicago Bears starting running back Khalil Herbert suffered a high-ankle sprain during the team’s victory over the Washington Commanders and has been sidelined since. With Herbert having the full designation in terms of Monday’s injury report, that is a sign that he may be able to be activated for the game on Thursday.
It will be interesting to see how the Bears go about playing time for running backs once Herbert returns. D’Onta Foreman has been a focal point of the Bears’ offense in light of the injuries to Field and Herbert and a case could be made for him to be the primary running back.
Darnell Mooney hopeful for a contract extension with the Chicago Bears
For the first time since suffering an ankle injury that ended his 2022 season prematurely, Chicago Bears wide receiver Darnell Mooney looked to be truly healthy during the team’s loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. Mooney totaled 82 yards on 5 receptions and it served as a reminder of how he could be an important piece to the Bears’ offense when healthy.
Mooney met with reporters on Monday and expressed interest in remaining with the Bears after this season. With the Bears in a position to potentially take Marvis Harrison Jr in the 2024 NFL Draft, bringing Mooney back next season may not be a priority for the team.