A five-game losing streak and questions about head coach Matt Nagy's future aren't the only things the Chicago Bears have to worry about heading into Thursday's contest against the Detroit Lions.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported rookie quarterback Justin Fields, who will not play against Detroit, "suffered a few cracked ribs." Fortunately for the Bears, an MRI revealed "tiny fractures, not deemed major, and Fields should return shortly."
Fields suffered the injury during Sunday's loss to the Baltimore Ravens, and veteran Andy Dalton entered the game and threw two touchdowns. Dalton will play Thursday's game as well, with the Bears looking to avoid becoming the first team to lose to the Lions this season.
Chicago is 3-7 thanks to its five straight losses and is not a true contender in 2021.
Keeping Fields healthy is far more important than winning any individual game this season, so it would be a surprise if the team rushes him back until he is completely ready, even if the fractures were deemed "tiny."
The Bears have been searching for a franchise quarterback for years, and the hope is Fields will eventually become one after they traded up to select the Ohio State product with a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL draft.
He has flashed his potential at times with both his arm and legs, although the offense as a whole has dealt with plenty of inconsistency and is just 29th in the league in points per game.
Chicago could also do far worse for a backup quarterback than Dalton, who is a three-time Pro Bowler and has playoff experience from his time on the Cincinnati Bengals. He is someone who can keep the team afloat in the immediate future and get the ball in the hands of playmakers such as Darnell Mooney and David Montgomery.
The Bears face the Arizona Cardinals in Week 13 after Thursday's contest against the Lions. That is the earliest Fields could return from his fractured ribs.