LAKE FOREST (670 The Score) -- If Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields is nervous, you’d never know it.
If he has any apprehension about heading to Cleveland – barely two hours up the road from where he starred in college – and playing against a tough Browns defensive line in front of a raucous crowd all in the first start of his NFL career this Sunday, you couldn't tell from his first Wednesday press conference as the Bears’ QB1.
“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.”
Admittedly, the formality behind it all blunts the news a bit – veteran quarterback Andy Dalton’s left knee injury, while not season-ending, is expected to keep him out for a couple of weeks. So the 22-year-old Fields will start at Cleveland. Nick Foles will be the backup, while coach Matt Nagy remains adamant -- for now -- that whenever Dalton is healthy enough to play, he will.
“Andy being where he’s at right now, he’s not healthy, so he’s not our starter," Nagy said. "When he is healthy, he is our starter. It’s as simple as that.”
Of course, it won’t quite be as simple as that if Fields plays like the Bears expect him to. On Wednesday, Fields talked about how beneficial it was to finally be getting all of the first-team reps and that the only added responsibility of prepping for a road start is working out cadence issues. The Browns, as he said, “play fast, play with speed and play physical.”
Lining up across from Browns star pass rushers Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney isn’t exactly the easiest first assignment to deal with.
“Of course, those guys are game-changers," said Fields, whom the Bears selected at No. 11 overall in the NFL Draft in late April. "They’re great players. We’re definitely going to have something set for them … They have a lot of great players on their defense. Myles Garrett, Jadeveon Clowney, they have a great secondary.”
It helps that seemingly everyone in Halas Hall believes that Fields is already up for it. Nagy explained that while he expects Fields to make some mistakes early on, he’s confident making this decision because he knows the moment isn’t too big for Fields. He conceded that while the full Fields package probably won’t be on display Sunday, there’s a ton of excitement in offensive meetings about what this week has in store.
“There is that excitement to be able to see what Justin can do,” Nagy said. “But I think we all feel that. We understand that. That’s a part of this process. That’s been a part of