LAKE FOREST, Ill. (670 The Score) – The Bears are standing by veteran Andy Dalton as their starting quarterback, though his health will dictate who's under center next Sunday.
Dalton exited the Bears' 20-17 win against the Bengals at Soldier Field on Sunday afternoon with a left knee injury, leaving rookie Justin Fields to take over. The 33-year-old Dalton on Monday was still undergoing further medical examinations on his left knee, but coach Matt Nagy said the Bears have ruled out a torn ACL. Whether there's ligament damage remains uncertain, Nagy said.
Dalton's injury is believed to be a bone bruise, NFL Media reported Monday morning. That would likely require a multi-week absence. Until Dalton's health situation is clear, the Bears must plan for the possibility that Fields is their starter at the Cleveland Browns next Sunday, Nagy said.
“We’ll have to be prepared when we find out exactly what’s going on with Andy,” Nagy said. “Is understand, OK, is he able to go? Is he not able to go? Work through all that stuff. For us, you got a guy that’s been in the league playing quarterback for a long time and you got a guy that’s never had an NFL start.”
The Bears' quarterback situation was muddled Monday before more clarity was provided after Nagy's press conference. In the aftermath of the win Sunday and then again Monday, Nagy was asked if Dalton would remain the Bears’ starter if deemed healthy. Each time, Nagy declined to commit to Dalton over Fields. After his press conference Monday at Halas Hall, Nagy relayed the message through a team official that Dalton would indeed be the starter if he’s cleared to play.
Dalton, 33, has completed 73.5% of his passes for 262 yards, one touchdown and one interception in his first two games with Chicago. He suffered his knee injury early in the second quarter while stepping awkwardly out of bounds on a scramble. Dalton returned for the Bears' following series after being evaluated on the sideline, taking a sack on third down that caused further pain to his left knee. He then exited for good.
The 22-year-old Fields then took over at quarterback for the Bears, going 6-of-13 for 60 yards and an interception while adding 10 carries for 31 yards. He had played five snaps in the Bears' loss to the Rams in their season opener on Sept. 12, going 2-of-2 for 10 yards and rushing once for a three-yard touchdown.
The Bears aren't required to release an injury report until Wednesday. They must share game statuses Friday.
Kickoff between the Bears (1-1) and Browns (1-1) is set for noon CT Sunday from FirstEnergy Stadium.
Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.