Dalton will start Thursday against Lions

  • Chicago Bears quarterback Andy Dalton throws a touchdown pass to Darnell Mooney during the second half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, in Chicago.

    Chicago Bears quarterback Andy Dalton throws a touchdown pass to Darnell Mooney during the second half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, in Chicago.

By Sean Hammond
Updated 11/23/2021 8:37 PM

Justin Fields' rib injury will keep him off the field Thursday.

Andy Dalton will start the 11:30 a.m. Thanksgiving Day game at Ford Field in Detroit, Bears coach Matt Nagy confirmed Tuesday. Nagy expects that Fields will be designated as inactive, meaning Nick Foles will likely serve as backup quarterback.


Fields injured his ribs Sunday in a 16-13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Dalton finished the second half, throwing for 201 yards and 2 touchdowns. Fields has not practiced this week. He was spotted moving around in the team's weight-room area adjacent to the practice field Tuesday.

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

Nagy did confirm that Fields will resume the starting quarterback duties once he's healthy.

Fields' absence certainly puts a damper on the Thanksgiving Day slate, especially with the Bears playing a winless Lions team. It makes sense, however, given that it's a short turnaround for a Thursday game.

Sitting Fields on Thursday gives him an extra week and a half to rest ahead of a Dec. 5 contest against the Arizona Cardinals. A Dalton-led team should be good enough to beat the Lions, who are 0-9-1.

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That said, starting Dalton will come with some challenges because the Bears don't have a true padded practice this week thanks to the four-day turnaround.

"In a short week, there's a lot of walk-throughs," Dalton said. "It's a lot of just talking through it. There's 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."

Dalton played well down the stretch Sunday against the Ravens. His 49-yard touchdown pass to receiver Marquise Goodwin on fourth-and-11 could have been an epic game-winner. Unfortunately, the Bears' defense couldn't stop the Ravens in the final minutes.

That said, the Bears are far from satisfied. Dalton had two really big plays that helped pad the stat line. For much of the half, it was a struggle. Besides his two long touchdown passes, Dalton's other possessions ended with two punts, a turnover on downs and the final possession was cut short when the clock ran out.


"It's easy to highlight the touchdown to Marquise because it put us in the lead," offensive coordinator Bill Lazor said. "But there were also plays at the end of the game where we didn't connect and had the one-on-ones, you could watch the film and say we were open and we didn't connect."

The Bears signed Dalton to a one-year, $10 million contract over the offseason. That was before they drafted Fields. Dalton began the season as the starter, with Fields as the backup.

Dalton last started in Week 2 against the Cincinnati Bengals. He injured his knee in that game as he ran out of bounds along the Bears' sideline. Fields started the next two games before being named the permanent starting quarterback. Between Week 2 and Sunday, Dalton saw only three snaps of action.

Dalton might not be the only backup playing Thursday. The Lions were forced to start backup Tim Boyle on Sunday in a loss to Cleveland. Starter Jared Goff was limited in practice Tuesday due to an oblique injury. Lions coach Dan Campbell said he was "leaning toward" starting Goff, but a final decision hasn't been made.


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