On the first play of the Bears’ final offensive drive against the Falcons, Justin Fields was hit by Dee Alford as he was trying to get out of bounds. Fields immediately grabbed his left shoulder and was in clear pain. 

The following day, several reports emerged about Fields and the exact injury he sustained in the 27-24 loss to the Falcons. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport was first to report that Fields “suffered a left shoulder dislocation,” but new reports are pushing back on that statement.

“Justin Fields, day to day with a left shoulder injury, but I’m told is not a dislocated shoulder,” Adam Schefter said on the Monday Night Football broadcast.

Michael Risher — who personally works with Fields and is the owner of The Rehab Lab — also doesn’t believe Fields dislocated his left non-throwing shoulder.

So, what is the difference between a “separated” shoulder vs. a “dislocated” shoulder?

“Main difference being short term vs long term,” Risher wrote. “Short term might be more impacted with the separated shoulder. Don’t want much impact there. Whereas if it were dislocated, you just throw a shoulder brace on and gut it out. Long term, separation is far less concerning than a dislocation. No surgery implications or long-term instability.”

Bears coach Matt Eberflus used a timeout to get Fields back in the game after he told his coach that “he was good” to return. The next play was supposed to be a handoff to David Montgomery, but there was miscommunication and Fields took the ball himself and was hit again. On third down, Fields was intercepted. 

Eberflus was asked about Fields’ injury on Monday.

“Yeah, so right now obviously you guys know the injury report comes out Wednesday and right now it’s day-to-day,” Eberflus said. “We’ll see where he is on Wednesday. So we’ve got time, we’ll see where it is and go from there.”

When it comes to quarterback shoulder injuries, the Bears organization should be pretty familiar about them. In 2019, former Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky suffered a shoulder dislocation to his non-throwing shoulder in the first quarter of the Week 4 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sept 29. 

Trubisky didn’t return from the injury until three weeks later against the Saints on Oct. 20. He did have to wear a shoulder harness for protection. 

(Forbes did a good break down on Trubisky’s shoulder dislocation and what treatment could look like.)

Wednesday will give a better indication on Fields’ status moving forward. If he does have to miss some time, then he may miss Sunday’s game against the Jets and the Dec. 4 matchup with the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field. The Bears have their bye week following the game with the Packers and then return to Soldier Field against the Eagles on Dec. 18.


Nicholas Moreano is the Bears beat reporter for CHGO Bears. He has a master's degree in Communication from DePaul University and obtained his bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Iowa.