The Chicago Bears officially announced that rookie quarterback Justin Fields would make his first NFL start against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday in place of the injured Andy Dalton while Odell Beckham is on a path that suggests he'll be able to play in the game.
Bears head coach Matt Nagy said Fields will start this game, but has said Dalton will return to the starting lineup when he's healthy. Dalton has played better than his popularity would suggest, so if Fields can have a strong debut in Cleveland, it might force the Bears to let Dalton heal a little longer.
The decision to start Fields could alter how the Browns defend the Bears this week. Against the Houston Texans with a lead, they utilized their dime defense. With Fields, they might want more speed and range on the field to counter his ability to create with his legs as well as defend him in the passing game.
Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski gave the strongest indication Beckham will play this week. He's going to be full go in practice, which is a step up from being limited last week. There's no talks of a pitch count or a pre-planning for it being the Bears.
The decision to place fellow receiver Jarvis Landry on injured reserve may have tipped the hand of the Browns decision on Beckham if it's only a three week injury. It's possible it could be in line with Nick Chubb's injury last year, which kept him out longer.
The Bears are coming off a win against the Cincinnati Bengals while the Browns defeated the Texans.