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Andy Dalton's Stay Could Be a While

Justin Fields has cracked ribs and as a result Andy Dalton could be needed a while longer depending on the pain tolerance the Brookie has.

The Bears have to like what they've seen of quarterback Andy Dalton and it's a good thing.

He could be doing this for a while.

Coach Matt Nagy on Friday described the injury to rookie starter Justin Fields as more serious than previously thought.

"I can confirm him having cracked ribs," Nagy said. "But at the same point in time, he’s moving around pretty good."

Cracked ribs is a different matter than bruised ribs and represent a longer time out of the lineup.

"There hasn't been throwing," Nagy said about Fields. "But that's stuff that, you've gotta be careful with that, right away when it happens."

It's an indefinite timeline for Fields' return either way, but cracked ribs can't make it a shorter one.

"But at the same point in time, he's moving around pretty good," Nagy said. "We gotta see—we have some time on our side right now to declare as to where he’s at.

"Every day matters for him. I think he's doing a good job of keeping the communication open. But we're gonna have to wait and see truly where his health is at to the point of him being able to play or not play. We don’t wanna obviously risk more injury to him as well."

Replacement Andy Dalton has played the most consistent quarterback that the team has seen all year in the last two games. He has averaged 8.3 yards per pass attempt with a 93.3 passer rating and three touchdowns to one interception since relieving the injured rookie.

This doesn't mean Nagy is thinking of going back on the quarterback plan and reinstating Dalton as No. 1.

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"When Justin is healthy he's the starter, you know what I mean?" Nagy said. "So that keeps it pretty simple. We've just got to be able to manage that, what's the definition of healthy so that he's okay and we're OK with him being able to play."

Fields is averaging 6.9 yards per attempt and has a passer rating of 69.0. He his completing 58.1% (115 of 198) with four touchdowns and eight interceptions.

"Justin is really growing and getting better and I think we all saw that, he's having great moments," Nagy said. "Are there places that he can get better and we can help him get better? For sure, that's a rookie year, that happens, that's a part of developing a rookie quarterback, you know what I mean?"

It might sound strange for Nagy to be defending a rookie quarterback who he originally planned to have on the bench. According to a report by Pro Football Weekly's Hub Arkush, the Bears coach didn't make the decision to put Fields in as starter. It was team owner George McCaskey.

Nagy labeled this report false.

"You know there's been some false stuff out there, that couldn't be ... furthest from the truth you know what I mean?" Nagy said.

Dalton originally was Bears starter until suffering a knee injury. Since relieving Fields he has gone 35 of 62 for 518 yards.

While Fields is going to remain starter when healthy, Nagy thought there might have been a benefit to watching Dalton operate the offense in Thursday's 16-14 comeback win over Detroit.

"I think yesterday was good for Justin and we talked about it," Nagy said. "He sees it from a different perspective from on the sideline and now there's things that maybe he takes that he can use yesterday's experience for when he does come back."

The Bears have the weekend off now and do not play again until Dec. 5 against Arizona.

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