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It will reportedly be Andy Dalton under center for the Chicago Bears on Thursday.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported the veteran is expected to start at quarterback against the Detroit Lions because Justin Fields is still recovering from the rib injury he suffered during Sunday’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
“The turnaround is too quick,” Rapoport noted.
Frankly, this is not a surprise from Chicago’s perspective.
The Bears are not much of a factor in the playoff race at 3-7, especially after blowing second-half leads in three consecutive losses to the San Francisco 49ers, Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens. Rushing Fields back on short rest given his overall long-term importance to the franchise would have been ill-advised.
The Bears have been searching for a franchise quarterback for years, and the hope in the Windy City is Fields can eventually become one after they selected him with a first-round pick out of Ohio State.
He has flashed his overall potential at times this year despite inconsistent offensive line play and questionable play-calling, and his ability to turn that potential into on-field results is the organization’s best hope of developing into a winner down the line.
Whether the Bears win Thursday’s game against the Lions in a matchup between the NFC North’s worst two teams will have no impact on the long-term goal of building a winner around Fields, which makes playing the rookie not worth the risk given the injury.
Dalton is also a solid option by backup standards and threw two touchdowns in the loss to the Ravens.
He finished 11-of-23 passing for 201 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions against Baltimore and will look to improve on his overall accuracy against a winless Lions team.