Monday's NFL: Bears say Andy Dalton will remain starting QB if healthy

Associated Press

Lake Forest, Ill. — Whether they want to or not, the Chicago Bears just might have to go with rookie Justin Fields.

Coach Matt Nagy said Monday that the team had ruled out a torn ACL for quarterback Andy Dalton, and it was awaiting more test results on his left knee before deciding who will start this weekend at Cleveland.

Fields, the No. 11 pick in the draft, took over on Chicago’s final drive in the first half of Sunday’s 20-17 win over Cincinnati after getting in a handful of plays earlier in the game, and he led the Bears the rest of the way.

Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields (1) saw extensive action in Sunday's win over the Bengals.

“What we’ll have to do is we’ll have to be prepared when we find out exactly what is going on with Andy,” Nagy said. “Is he able to go? Is he not able to go? Work through all of that stuff. … You got a guy that has been in the league playing quarterback for a long time and you got a guy that has never had an NFL start.”

Asked if Dalton is the starter if he’s healthy, Nagy repeated the question. Then, he said: “That’s something I’m not gonna get into with scheme.” He gave a similar response to the same question following the game, saying, “I’m not gonna get into any of that.”

But the Bears’ tune changed about 10 minutes after their coach met with reporters Monday. Team spokesman Brandon Faber came to the media room and said Nagy told him he misunderstood the question and Dalton is the starter if he’s healthy.

“He should have said, ‘Yes, he is,’” Faber said.

Dalton was injured on a 14-yard run early in the second quarter. Fields took the final three snaps of that possession.

Dalton was in for the next drive, before Fields led Chicago’s final one of the half.

Fields showed some promise in his first extended look as a pro. But by his own admission, it wasn’t a great outing. He completed just 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.

If Fields gets a start or two and struggles, the Bears might have to decide whether to keep him in the lineup if Dalton is ready to return. Their plan, after all, was to go with the veteran and keep the rookie in a backup role, at least in the early going.

Then again, Dalton is on just a one-year contract. The Bears are banking on Fields, and the time to go with him just might be now.

“That’s all stuff that we’ve talked about,” Nagy said. “We’ve discussed how things would go, the what-if game, just so that you’re not making emotional decisions. And you also got to see how things are going. … We talk through a little bit of the what-ifs. But we just try to stay in the moment right now.”

Watson to remain inactive

Houston quarterback Tyrod Taylor is day to day with a hamstring injury as the Texans face a quick turnaround with a Thursday night game against Carolina.

If Taylor can’t play, Deshaun Watson will not be an option, with coach David Culley saying that Watson would be inactive for Thursday’s game just as he has been for the first two games.

Watson has been listed as inactive/not injury-related following his trade request and after 22 women filed lawsuits alleging sexual assault or harassment.

Culley said Taylor was getting on MRI on Monday and that the team would know more about his availability afterward.

Taylor was injured in the first half of Houston’s 31-21 loss to Cleveland on Sunday and didn’t return after halftime. Rookie Davis Mills, a third-round pick from Stanford, took over and threw for 102 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

If Taylor can’t play Thursday, the Texans likely will bring up Jeff Driskel from the practice squad to back up Mills. Culley said they haven’t yet discussed the possibility of signing another quarterback this week.

Personnel dept.

Browns receiver Jarvis Landry, who has missed just one game with an injury in nine years as a pro, could be sidelined for multiple weeks with a sprained medial collateral ligament suffered early in Sunday’s win over Houston.

Coach Kevin Stefanski said Landry will be “week to week” but provided no other specifics on a timeline for his return.

Stefanski did not rule Landry out for this week’s home game against Chicago. However, it’s unlikely Landry will be back quickly from this type of knee injury, which typically takes three to four weeks of recovery time.

Stefanski said “we’ll see” when asked if Landry can avoid going on injured reserve. Any player moved to IR must miss a minimum of three games.

… A battery of tests run on Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa failed to show any serious problems other than bruised ribs, raising at least the possibility that he could play next weekend against the Raiders.

… Colts quarterback Carson Wentz sprained both ankles during Sunday’s loss to the Rams and coach Frank Reich said he’s not sure when Wentz will return.

… The Broncos haven’t lost a game yet, but they have lost five starters in two weeks and the latest injury, to inside linebacker Josey Jewell, appears the most serious.

Coach Vic Fangio wouldn’t confirm reports that the fourth-year inside linebacker is out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle.