May 24, 2022

Bears News

Andy Dalton, Justin Fields return to practice, but Matt Nagy declines to name starter

Dalton (groin) and Fields (ankle) both sat out Sunday’s game against Seattle

Chicago Bears quarterback Andy Dalton, left, looks to pass as quarterback Justin Fields watches as they warm up before a preseason game against the Miami Dolphins in Chicago on Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021.

The Bears had the full complement of quarterbacks at practice Wednesday.

But it’s still too soon to know who will start Sunday’s game against the New York Giants at Soldier Field.

Andy Dalton (groin) and Justin Fields (ankle) both returned to practice at Halas Hall in Lake Forest. Fields was listed as limited, while Dalton was a full participant. They joined veteran third-string QB Nick Foles, who started Sunday’s 25-24 win over the Seattle Seahawks.

Dalton hasn’t played since the Dec. 5 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Fields played against the Minnesota Vikings on Dec. 20 and suffered an ankle injury in the second quarter. He finished that game, but the injury worsened during the week and forced him to sit out Sunday’s game against Seattle.

Speaking before practice Wednesday, coach Matt Nagy said they wouldn’t know how Dalton’s or Fields’ injuries would react until both players stepped onto the field.

Asked if Fields would’ve played against Seattle if the team – which is 5-10 and eliminated from playoff contention – had something more meaningful to play for, Nagy said Fields would not have.

“He was trying to do everything he could [to play last week],” Nagy said. “Sometimes you feel like you can do things, and then you get out there and your body just doesn’t allow you to. I think that’s probably what he went through. This week will be a true test to the significance of the pain.”

With two games remaining on the 2021 schedule, the Bears don’t have a lot to play for. Sunday’s game won’t mean much for either team because, at 4-11, the Giants also are eliminated from contention.

Still, the Bears prefer to have their rookie quarterback on the field. Live NFL reps are valuable, and they’re a scarce commodity. If Fields is healthy, he will be on the field.

“He wants to be out there for his teammates, he wants to be out there every way he can to help us continue to finish the season strong,” Nagy said. “Getting those reps has been really good for him, which I think is great. He’s grown in a lot of different ways. Every rep he can get at this point, with how it has gone, will be valuable for him for the rest of his career.”

It could be an unusual week in practice for the Bears offense. Last week, Foles didn’t know he would be the starter on Sunday until Friday. He had little time to prepare. The veteran threw for 250 yards and one touchdown on 24-of-35 passing.

If Fields remains limited in practice through this week, Foles or Dalton likely will take most of the first-team reps. In a perfect world, Fields will return to full participation by Friday, but that all depends how his ankle reacts.

“The good thing [is] I’ve gotten reps with all three of them,” top receiver Darnell Mooney said. “So I’ve got some good things, some things on the same page with those guys. ... I don’t really know what to say. It’s a part of the game. We’ve got to see who’s available.”

Meanwhile, Sunday’s opponent hasn’t named a starting QB, either.

Giants starter Daniel Jones is on season-ending injured reserve with a neck injury. Jake Fromm made his first career start in a 34-10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. Fromm went 6 for 17 for 25 yards with an interception and was benched in the third quarter. Former Bears quarterback Mike Glennon replaced him and was only marginally better, going 17 for 27 for 93 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Giants coach Joe Judge said Wednesday that the starter will depend on who plays better in practice this week. So it will be either Glennon or Fromm, who held down the starting job at Georgia in 2018, which kept Fields on the bench and eventually led to his transfer to Ohio State.

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for Shaw Media. He also contributes to high school football coverage at Friday Night Drive. Sean has covered various sports at the amateur, college and professional levels since 2012. He joined Shaw Media in 2016.