The rib injury suffered by Chicago Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields is expected to keep him out of action for a Thanksgiving game against the Detroit Lions, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. That clears the way for Andy Dalton to return to the starting lineup for the first time since he suffered a knee injury in Week 2.
Dalton, 34, replaced Fields in the third quarter of the Bears’ Week 11 game against the Baltimore Ravens when the rookie went to the locker room for further evaluation. Dalton only completed 11 of his 23 passes, but connected on a 60-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter and a 49-yard touchdown pass in the final two minutes of the game that gave Chicago a 13-9 lead.
While the Ravens came back to win, Dalton’s efforts were a boost for an offense that has struggled to find traction in 2021. Through 11 weeks, the Houston Texans are the only team with fewer yards of total offense than the Bears.
Dalton spent nine seasons as the starter for the Cincinnati Bengals before he was released in April 2020, one week after the team drafted Joe Burrow. He then played one season with the Dallas Cowboys where he started nine games in replacement of Dak Prescott. Dalton was the Bears’ starter in Week 1, but was replaced by Fields a week later due to injury.
Fields has thrown four touchdowns and eight interceptions in 10 games so far in 2021.