LAKE FOREST, Ill. – The Chicago Bears planned to have Justin Fields adjust to the NFL while watching from the sideline as a backup to veteran Andy Dalton.
Well, so much for that.
Fields is set to make his first start when the Bears visit the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
Coach Matt Nagy said Wednesday the team will go with the prized rookie quarterback with Dalton sidelined because of a left knee injury.
“Justin's gonna be our starter,” he said. “His prep starts ... right now.”
Nagy said Dalton remains the team's No. 1 quarterback for now and the plan is for him to be the starter when he is healthy. Nagy said the three-time Pro Bowler is week to week, though the Bears don't think he will be placed on injured reserve. Super Bowl 52 MVP Nick Foles will be the backup quarterback.
Fields got his first extended look last week in a 20-17 win over Cincinnati when he took over on Chicago's final drive in the first half. He completed 6 of 13 passes for 60 yards and threw an interception late in the game that led to a touchdown. He also ran for 31 yards after being in on just five plays the previous week.
“I think I'm ready,” Fields said. “I've been preparing for this moment for a long time. My mindset doesn't change, I'm still going to have to play my football and just prepare the best I can. Like I said before, get a lot of practice reps and study, study, study, and get more comfortable and confident with the plays and stuff like that.”
Fields sees a chance to help establish himself as the starter even if the Bears plan to go with Dalton once he's healthy.
“I think every time I go in, I have that mindset,” Fields said. “My main focus isn't winning the starting job. I think that's going to come with time, so my main focus right now is just to prepare the best I can and go out Sunday and execute at a high level.”
It would be hard to envision the Bears going back to Dalton if Fields performs well in his absence and the team wins.
“When that time comes, there's a lot of stuff that can happen between now and then,” Nagy said. “I don't really want to go there other than just saying when Andy is healthy, he's our starter.”