August 8, 2022

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Game-time decision between Andy Dalton, Justin…

4 min read
Game-time decision between Andy Dalton, Justin...

Dalton has been pleased with the progress he’s made recovering from the injury.

“It’s been improving every day,” Dalton said. “If we can keep this thing improving every day, then we’ll be in a good spot.

“When you suffer an injury, you’re trying to do everything you can to rehab and get feeling good as soon as possible. So, everything’s been heading in the right direction and everything’s improving, so I feel good about where I’m at.”

Dalton injured his knee on a 14-yard scramble in the first quarter of the Bears’ 20-17 win over the Bengals Sept. 19 at Soldier Field. He returned for one series but then exited and sat out the rest of the game.

“I hadn’t had that feeling before, and when it initially happened, it took me a second and then I felt like I could get back out there,” Dalton said. “And then after a couple movements, it was evident it would be hard to be at 100 percent when playing, so it’s just working through that. That’s the biggest thing.”

Dalton exited after completing 9 of 11 passes for 56 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown to Allen Robinson II on the Bears’ first possession. The offense was moving the ball on Dalton’s second drive before he hurt his knee.

“I have a ton of confidence in what we can do,” Dalton said. “For us to start that game, first drive, make plays that we needed and go down and score, that shows what we’re capable of doing. I have a ton of confidence in this offense, a ton of confidence in our guys that we’re going to get this thing back on track.”

Nagy reiterated this week that Dalton will start when he’s healthy. But it appears that won’t be determined until Sunday morning.

“It’s ongoing,” Nagy said. “It’s today. It’s tomorrow. It’s Sunday. The good part about both of those guys is that they’re both progressing in the right way. And then what we’ve got to do is be able to see where Andy’s at, really up until Sunday. That’s why it’s the game-time decision.”

That commitment from Nagy is important to Dalton, who signed with the Bears in March after spending his first 10 NFL seasons with the Bengals (2011-19) and Cowboys (2020).

“It means a lot,” Dalton said. “I feel like that’s what I was told when I first got here and obviously a lot of circumstances, things can change and all that kind of stuff, but it just shows the confidence that they have in me and what I can bring and what I can do for this team.”

Dalton was inactive last Sunday when the Bears offense sputtered in a 26-6 loss to the Browns. His replacement, Fields, was under constant pressure by a Cleveland defense that recorded nine sacks and 15 quarterback hits.

“He’s got a ton of resiliency,” Dalton said. “His head was never down. I felt like he was out there and he was fighting to the very end. That’s a tough game to be in, but it’s a learning experience. He’s going to take things from that game and things that he experienced and it’s just going to make him a better player.”

Fields said Friday that his injured thumb “definitely feels good” and that he’s approaching Sunday’s game like he did the season opener.

“Being second-string, you’ve got to prepare like you’re the starter,” Fields said. “You’ve got to be prepared whether or not you’re going out there or not.”

Like every other NFL player, Fields wants to be a starter. But if he’s relegated to backup duty Sunday, it won’t be a difficult role for him to accept.

“How do I process it? Just do it,” Fields said. “It’s not hard. It’s not complicated. You’ve just got to do it. Things happen in life where they might not go your way or might not happen the way you want it to, but you can’t control that. Control the things you can control, and face the fact and deal with it right there.”