NOVEMBER 18: The Bears made it official today, activating Herbert for the team’s Week 11 matchup in Detroit. It remains to be seen what Herbert’s role will be after he seemed to be firmly establishing himself as the lead back in the two games before his absence. Foreman has had a few decent performances since then while rookie Roschon Johnson has remained a change of pace back and Travis Homer has remained a special teamer.
The activation is the team’s eighth off of injured reserve this year, which is the limit for a season. If any other players are placed on IR, they will be forced to remain there for the rest of the year.
In addition to Herbert’s activation, the Bears announced their standard gameday practice squad elevations for tomorrow. They have selected linebacker Micah Baskerville and outside linebacker DeMarquis Gates to dress up against the Lions.
NOVEMBER 17: The Bears’ offense will see two significant reinforcements in time for Week 11. As expected, quarterback Justin Fields will suit up on Sunday as he was taken off the injury report. Running back Khalil Herbert, meanwhile, will be activated off IR, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network notes.
Fields has missed the past four games due to a thumb injury, but it was learned earlier this week that Chicago intended to bring the former first-rounder back into the fold. With that now confirmed, Fields can embark on a late-season stretch in which plenty of his post-2023 future will be determined. Recent indications have suggested Fields will need to convince the Bears’ brass – which was not in place when he was drafted – of his worth to avoid having the team draft a new signal-caller in April.
2023 has seen the 24-year-old continue to put up inconsistent numbers, and the thumb injury has added to his missed time. Fields is under contract through at least 2024, though the Bears could add one year to his rookie pact by exercising his fifth-year option this spring. Doing so would represent a sign of confidence in his progression, but the team is slated to have two high first-rounders in April’s draft. That would provide an opportunity to acquire a Fields successor and move on from the Ohio State alum. His play down the stretch will thus be worth watching closely.
Herbert was one of three players the Bears designated for return last week. The others – wideout Equanimeous St. Brown and cornerback Josh Blackwell – were activated, but Herbert was not. The latter will notably represent the eighth and final IR activation used by Chicago this season. While their aggressiveness with using injured reserve as a means of stashing injured players has carried risk, Herbert’s return will be welcomed on the Bears’ offense.
The unit has struggled in a number of categories, although running production has not been one of them. The Bears rank fifth in the NFL with an average of 135 yards per game on the ground, and Herbert sits second on the team with 272 on the year. Free agent addition D’Onta Foreman has taken the lead in that department while logging a heavy workload in Herbert’s absence. It will be interesting to see how the RB snaps are divided with the team’s backfield returning to health.
The 3-7 Bears will aim to ride the return of Fields and Herbert to an uptick in offensive efficiency late in the year. With plenty at stake for the former (along with several members of the coaching staff and/or front office, in the view of many), Chicago will be a team to monitor in the closing weeks of the campaign.