Friday's NFL: Bears waiting until game time to announce starting QB

Associated Press

Lake Forest, Ill. — The Chicago Bears will wait until game time to announce their starting quarterback for Sunday’s game against Detroit, choosing between Andy Dalton and rookie Justin Fields.

Both quarterbacks are dealing with injuries, but Fields has been able to go through full practices the entire week while Dalton has been limited every day. Dalton is suffering from a bone bruise to his left knee while Fields wore a brace on his injured right hand all week in practice.

Coach Matt Nagy said Friday he couldn’t rule out Dalton for Sunday at Soldier Field.

Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields (1) could make his second straight start this weekend.

“I feel like, again, the good part about both of those guys is that they’re both progressing in the right way,” Nagy said. “And then what we’ve got to do is be able to see where Andy’s at and really, up until Sunday. That’s why it’s the game-time decision.”

Fields injured his right thumb during last weekend’s 26-6 loss to the Cleveland Browns. Dalton got hurt right before halftime in Week 2 against Cincinnati.

Dalton’s mobility could be affected if called upon to start.

“For him, when you go through an injury and when you go through a knee injury and you have drop backs, you have handoffs, you have, whatever it is that you have, you want to have ultimate trust in knowing that you’re not thinking about that injury while you’re playing,” Nagy said. “I can specifically say that because I know I went through that with an ACL injury.

“You think about that. And once you get by that then you can start playing football.”

The Bears (1-2) are last in the NFL in offense and passing. Their offense has scored three touchdowns, and they haven’t had one since Dalton left the second game.

“I think the biggest thing is that it’s felt better every day and it’s just kind of where I’m at with this thing is keep improving, keep getting better and that’s all my focus is right now,” Dalton said.

Fields was 6 of 20 for 68 yards and was sacked nine times in the loss to the Browns.

On the season, Fields is 14 of 35 for 138 yards with an interception. He has run for 46 yards on 14 attempts with a touchdown.

Fields feels he and the rest of the offense are prepared to bounce back.

“When you have a performance like that, times like that, adversity like that, you need those things in life just to slap you in the face and tell you to refocus,” Fields said. “I’m not saying that we were complacent, but really just, when you go out there and perform like that that’s not what we want to do.

“So that happening, of course, I think that was a little extra motivation this week on being clean on everything.”

The Bears will have nose tackle Eddie Goldman available for the first time in a game since 2019 after he was removed from the injury report. Goldman suffered a knee injury just before the regular season and missed the first three games.

Linebacker Khalil Mack (foot sprain) is questionable for the matchup with the Lions, and safety Tashaun Gipson (hamstring) has been ruled out. Also out for the Bears is linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe (hamstring). Wide receiver Darnell Mooney (groin) and cornerback Xavier Crawford (back) are questionable.

NFL launches 'Crucial Catch' initiative for October

The NFL is launching its “Crucial Catch” initiative this month, and it is concentrating on people getting screened to catch cancer early when it may be easier to treat.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on screening, with some cancer screenings declining by 90%. So the league and the American Cancer Society are allocating resources dedicated to safely restarting cancer screenings in communities with the most need.

For many forms of cancer (breast, cervical, colorectal and prostate), the five-year survival rate is above 90% when detected early before it has a chance to spread.

“It Takes All of Us to Intercept Cancer” has the NFL and ACS working together to encourage screenings. This is the 13th consecutive year the league and the ACS are working together. The initiative kicks off in stadiums Sunday and continues through Week 6 games, addressing early detection and risk-reduction efforts across multiple types of cancers.

“The COVID -19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on cancer screenings, with a screening decline that the American Cancer Society expects to lead to more late cancer diagnoses and increased cancer deaths in the future,” said Dr. Karen Knudsen, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society. “This year, it is critical to safely restart cancer screenings and to ensure that everyone has access to life-saving screening. The strong, ongoing support of the NFL and Crucial Catch is invaluable to the American Cancer Society’s work to increase cancer screenings, especially in under-served communities that need them most.”

All 32 NFL teams have the option of supporting early detection and risk-reduction efforts for one or multiple cancers in their stadiums and in their communities. Players may wear cleats, shoelaces and wristbands in any color representing the type of cancer awareness they support or have been impacted by during their team’s Crucial Catch game.

There also will be game balls with the Crucial Catch logo; multicolored equipment for players, including helmet decals, captains’ patches, sideline caps and quarterback towels; multicolored ribbon pins for coaches and teams; caps and pins for game officials; multicolored goal post wraps in end zones; and field-wall banners in the color of the cancer awareness movement that each club supports.

A TV spot will include coaches Bruce Arians and Ron Rivera, both cancer survivors; Pro Football Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson, whose mother was diagnosed with, and successfully battled, pancreatic cancer in 2013; and Chiefs offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who opted out of last season to work on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19.

Extra points

Sports books say Sunday’s showdown between Tom Brady and Bill Belichick is shaping up to be the most heavily bet on NFL game of the regular season.

Brady, the six-time Super Bowl champion, returns to Gillette Stadium for the first time as a member of the visiting team, leading his defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the New England Patriots.

FanDuel, which is the official odds provider for The Associated Press, says 95% of bets are on Tampa Bay to cover the 7-point spread. Other sports books report similarly lopsided betting action on Brady and the Bucs.

… Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was back at practice Friday after missing the previous two days with a back issue.

… Receivers Julio Jones and A.J. Brown are among six Titans who won’t play Sunday against the Jets.

… Washington activated receiver Curtis Samuel, and he is expected to make his season debut Sunday at the Falcons.

… The Patriots placed running back James White on injured reserve with a hip injury.

… The Bills will be without safety Jordan Poyer and left guard Jon Feliciano for their game against the Texans on Sunday.

… Jets coach Robert Saleh said receiver Denzel Mims will be active Sunday against Tennessee after the second-round pick from last year was a healthy scratch the past two weeks.