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Bears Bulletin

Bears to start Dalton in place of injured Fields


Bears coach Matt Nagy announced Tuesday that veteran Andy Dalton will start at quarterback in place of injured rookie Justin Fields against the Lions Thanksgiving Day in Detroit.

Fields exited Sunday's 16-13 loss to the Ravens with an injury to his ribs following the Bears' first possession of the second half. Dalton entered the game and completed 11 of 23 passes for 201 yards with two touchdowns and a 107.3 passer rating.

Nagy added that Fields likely won't be active against the Lions, meaning that veteran Nick Foles will serve as Dalton's backup. The Bears are hopeful that Fields will be able to return to start a week from Sunday versus the Cardinals at Soldier Field.

"You would hope so," Nagy said. "We've just got to see where his ribs are. I think it's day-by-day. But he's been doing pretty good, and we've just got to keep an eye on that."

Dalton, meanwhile, will make his first start since Week 2—without the benefit of a regular practice. With such a quick turnaround between games, the Bears were off Monday, held a walkthrough Tuesday and will fly to Detroit Wednesday.

"It's a challenge," said offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. "We're fortunate we have Andy Dalton, a guy who has had to play and prepare many times. He exudes pretty good confidence to the group, the way he carries himself and the way he goes about his business. Whether you're out there with him, whether it be at a walkthrough or whatever, they feel like he's going to be ready."

Having started 144 career games and thrown for 34,235 yards and 221 touchdowns, Dalton has plenty of experience to draw from. This year he has played in four contests with two starts, connecting on 65.8 percent of his passes for 471 yards with three TDs, one interception and a 91.8 passer rating.

"Just talking through everything and making sure we're on the same page of how we want things run and how we want to execute on some of these plays, that's the big thing," Dalton said. "In a short week, there's a lot of walkthroughs, a lot of just talking through it, a lot of mental stuff that you go through. All of that stuff is really important as it leads up to the game on Thursday."

“He exudes pretty good confidence to the group, the way he carries himself and the way he goes about his business.” Bears offensive coordinator Bill Lazor on QB Andy Dalton

Dalton conceded that his start in Detroit will give him another chance to prove he deserves a starting job elsewhere in the league next season. But his focus this week is solely on helping the Bears snap their five-game losing streak with a victory over the Lions.

Dalton was the Bengals' primary starter throughout his first nine NFL seasons from 2011-19. He was then signed to be a backup with the Cowboys last year but ended up starting nine games after Dak Prescott sustained a season-ending injury.

"For sure, I believe I'm a starter in this league," Dalton said. "Coming into this year, that's what I was. That's what I expect; the type of player I am and the type of player I have been throughout my career. I started every year that I've been in the league minus last year going into it, but I still got to play a lot last year.

"[But] my focus isn't on what is going to be going on after this year or after this game. My whole focus is just on being the best quarterback and being the best player I can be to help this team win on Thursday."

The Bears hit the practice field Tuesday during a short week to prepare for Thursday's Thanksgiving matchup with the Lions in Detroit.

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