Quarterback Andy Dalton's status is uncertain for this week's game in Cleveland after he exited Sunday's win over the Bengals with a knee injury he sustained on a 14-yard run in the second quarter. The 11th-year pro returned for one series but then exited and remained on the sideline the rest of the game. The Bears said Monday the veteran will remain their starting quarterback if he's healthy enough to play.
Dalton completed 9 of 11 passes for 56 yards with one touchdown and a 118.2 passer rating. On the game's opening possession, he connected on 6 of 7 throws for 39 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown to Allen Robinson II that staked the Bears to a 7-0 lead.
"As far as the quarterback situation with Andy, he's still working through all his results right now of going through that," said coach Matt Nagy. "We'll know more later on tonight with him.
"But I appreciate his toughness and I thought he was playing really well. He took us down there on that first drive for a touchdown, came back out and put together a nice little drive there with some scrambles. He was throwing the ball well, he looked good. Unfortunately, that [injury] happened. We'll see how that goes later on today with the results and work from that."
Nagy confirmed Monday that Dalton did not suffer a torn ACL.
If Dalton is unable to play, rookie first-round pick Justin Fields would make his first NFL start Sunday when the Bears visit the Browns in Cleveland. The former Ohio State star replaced Dalton against the Bengals, completing 6 of 13 passes for 60 yards with one interception and a 27.7 rating. He also rushed for 31 yards on 10 carries.
"What we'll have to do is we'll have to be prepared when we find out exactly what is going on with Andy and understand, 'OK, is he able to go? Is he not able to go?'" Nagy said. "Work through all of that stuff because for us you've got a guy that has been in the league playing quarterback for a long time and you've got a guy that has never had an NFL start. So we'll have to work through that, which we will. That gives us time tonight to be able to do that, and that's what we'll do."
Nagy said that he was not limited in what plays he could call when Fields replaced Dalton against the Bengals.
"As a play-caller, you try to go to some of the stuff that you know he knows where the bones are buried in the play," Nagy said. "You want to be able to help him out that way. But at the same point in time, it's your job as a backup to make sure that you know the entire call sheet inside out, which he did and he does.
"I know coach Flip (John DeFilippo) has done a phenomenal job at working with him and getting him prepared. And so really the whole play sheet, the call sheet, was open."
Fields' inexperience was evident late in the game when he was intercepted by Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson. Fields saw speedy receiver Marquise Goodwin break open on a crossing route but didn't realize that Wilson had backpedaled off the line into pass coverage.
"The rusher did a good job of rushing and then dropping," Nagy said. "The corner that's over [Goodwin] is in a trail technique against a guy that runs pretty fast. Justin was working through his progression.
"[It is] another opportunity for him to just learn. Right after the ball came out, he knew it. He felt it. But they did a good job on defense. The kid made a good play popping back and making the interception. These are different looks that he's going to get and we just want to prepare him as much as possible to understand kind of how that stuff goes."
Growing pains like that are typical for all rookie quarterbacks transitioning from college to the NFL.
"We have to make that very normal for us to understand that if indeed he is the starter and the guy, there's going to be some of that," Nagy said. "But then how do we help him with that?
"When the ball is snapped, we've got to do everything we possibly can to help him really understand the play inside out. And that comes through with what we've done in OTAs and training camp so that he can play fast. The last thing we want is him playing slow and then having to react to the defense."
Check out the best 40 photos–taken by Bears photographers–from Sunday's home-opening victory over the Bengals at Soldier Field.