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The Effect of Injuries on Bears  Offense

While the Bears ponder who will start at quarterback it seems injuries at all positions can make calling the game as much a nightmare as playing in it.

Uncertainty going on with Bears offensive personnel at several positions definitely clouds how coaches can game plan and call the game on that side of the ball against the Arizona Cardinals.

Even in the midst of current personnel chaos, it appears the Bears offense is improving based on three straight late-game scoring drives. Or, at least their confidence seems to be higher.

It's looking more like Andy Dalton as starter at quarterback against Arizona after he took first-team snaps for the second straight day Thursday, but Fields was able to go through a limited practice for the second straight day.

"I asked him after practice-wise, how did he feel and everything," wide receiver Darnell Mooney said of Fields. "He was chopping it up and saying he was feeling good. So we'll see."

Fields has surprised the Bears with his ability to move and throw despite broken ribs.

"I didn't know what it would look like, and I felt pretty good with what I saw," offensive coordinator Bill Lazor said. "But, none of us know how it feels. 

"We've all had back, side, core injuries and sometimes sneezing hurts. But I agree, he moved well."

Still, with Andy Dalton at quarterback there is more chance for stability, mainly because he is healthy and also because he is a veteran. Considering the team's current injury state, Dalton might be their best option.

"Well, Andy has seen a lot and he's probably over time been tricked and fooled like all quarterbacks get at some point," Lazor said. "And so we all learn from experience. Wisdom comes from experience. And so you've got a guy who's—I don't want to say, seen it all—that's an exaggeration, but seen a lot. He can foresee some things that are happening, especially if something comes up that maybe we didn't see on tape and didn't plan for."

One of those would be injuries during the game, like occurred last week with Marquise Goodwin. It resulted in Damiere Byrd being relied upon extensively in the offense for the first time. 

At least this week the Bears have time to prepare for such injuries.

Lazor was left eliminating plays from his play list against the Lions due to in-game injuries occurring on offense. Goodwin was a key loss during the game. 

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Lazor uses pencil rather than ink to cross such things off the play sheet if he sees it's something the subs are not prepared to run.

"Because sometimes they come back," he said. "I did have one this week, I crossed off in pencil and then I erased it, just so my eyes wouldn't see it crossed off."

When such things happen, formations and personnel packages are affected. The offense can get dumbed down. 

So if Dalton is playing it could benefit the Bears because he's more able to cope with such situations as a veteran.

"I knew guys were out and so we had time where maybe you could flip people by formation—as long as it's simple," Lazor said. "If it's too complicated, then, hey, the replacement's just got to go. We really need that play. 

"So in-game, there's a little bit that you have to erase sometime. Usually. but you try to keep as much of it going. If you have multiple guys going down, that becomes an issue."

As much as coaches like to rely on their playbook and scheming, execution is done by players. 

"Personnel is everything," Lazor said. "And the hard ones, which we're dealing with, is some guys who are questionable. We really want them to play, so we put some plays in that are specific to him. 

"You don't want to overdo it if he doesn’t play, but if he might play, it's, 'Well, shoot, let's get some of his best plays in.' So that's the hardest one, I think, as coaches, is when you don’t know yet if a guy's going to play."

And the injury report says Allen Robinson (hamstring), Goodwin (foot/ribs), Cole Kmet (groin) and even Fields (ribs) might fall into that category. Robinson and Goodwin haven't practiced at all this week. Kmet practiced on a limited basis Thursday.

More will be known by the end of Friday's practice, although a game-time decision is always possible.

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