Bears exercising patience while Justin Fields (ribs) returns to health

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. (670 The Score) -- The Bears anticipate the return of rookie quarterback Justin Fields at some point before the end of the season, but they're exercising patience and want to ensure his fractured ribs are fully healed.

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The Bears (4-8) are still uncertain as to whether Fields could return to his starting role when they visit the Packers (9-3) next Sunday night. Coach Matt Nagy emphasized they'll prioritize his health above everything else.

"We're never going to put him at risk medically,” Nagy said Monday. “Never. You can mark that down.”

Fields suffered the ribs injury during a game on Nov. 21. He has missed the last two games, with veteran Andy Dalton stepping in as the starting quarterback in his place.

Last week, Fields returned to practice in a limited fashion while he and the Bears measured his pain tolerance and healing. What they found led them to start Dalton again during a 33-22 loss to the Cardinals on Sunday. During the loss, Dalton suffered an injury to his non-throwing hand while making a tackle on one of his four interceptions.

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Fields, 22, has completed 58.1% of his passes for 1,361 yards, four touchdowns and eight interceptions over 10 games, including eight starts, this season. Dalton, 33, has completed 64.1% of his passes for 1,017 yards, six touchdowns and six interceptions in six games, including four starts.

Veteran quarterback Nick Foles would be the Bears’ next option to start if both Fields and Dalton can't play Sunday.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.