Fields takes his spot behind Dalton at Chicago Bears practice
For the first time, Bears quarterbacks Andy Dalton and Justin Fields were on the football field at the same time.
The Bears kicked off organized team activities (OTAs) Tuesday at Halas Hall and opened up Wednesday's practice to members of the media. It was a chance to size up Dalton and Fields. Both are joining a new team and trying to learn a new offense. OTAs are the first step.
With veterans back at practice, Fields took his place behind Dalton on the depth chart.
"Right now for (Fields), it's all new, first time getting in an NFL offense," Dalton said. "I'm trying to give him advice on certain things, how I would view certain plays, what I'd do with my eyes on certain things, different things that come with experience. Obviously, I'm going into Year 11. I've had a lot of ball. For me, I'm just trying to help him out a much as I can."
Bears head coach Matt Nagy has been clear that Dalton is the starter. Dalton signed as a free agent in Chicago expecting to be the starter in 2021, but that was before the team drafted Fields.
Dalton said his mindset hasn't changed since Fields came into the fold. He signed a one-year contract knowing he would have to prove himself, whether the Bears drafted a rookie or not.
"I already knew I was going to do everything I can to be the best player I can for this team and to help us win a lot of football games," Dalton said. "And that's been my goal from the very beginning. And so whatever happens after this year happens."
Fields was not made available to the media Wednesday, but Nagy said the rookie is doing all the right things.
"It will be cool to see him once he really starts understanding what we do here in this offense, to see him continue to grow and open up and ask good questions," Nagy said.
Nagy clarified that Fields will take reps with the second team and Nick Foles with the third team. It's an unfortunate twist for a 32-year-old former Super Bowl MVP in Foles, who was leapfrogged by a rookie on the depth chart.
Foles has been absent from practice this week for what Nagy called a personal issue, but he has been a participant during virtual meetings.
"Nick is a true pro and understands it," Nagy said. "(He) is still very competitive, and that's why I say in all these meetings it's just really special to see how they're trying to help Justin out and teach him how to play quarterback and how to watch film and study this offense."
Veterans absent: Foles wasn't the only veteran missing Wednesday. About a dozen prominent players were absent, including much of the starting defense.
Safety Eddie Jackson, outside linebacker Khalil Mack, outside linebacker Robert Quinn, inside linebacker Danny Trevathan, safety Tashaun Gipson, defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, defensive lineman Bilal Nichols, defensive lineman Mario Edwards and defensive lineman Eddie Goldman were among those missing. The team had only three defensive linemen present.
On offense, other than Foles, receiver Allen Robinson was the only prominent player missing.
Nagy said all the veterans have been participating in virtual meetings. OTAs are optional and the NFLPA has been pushing for veteran players to skip them. Still, missing so many starters is notable.