LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Andy Dalton insisted he understood the situation when he signed with the Chicago Bears and wasn’t blindsided when they drafted Justin Fields.
The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback knows he is the starter for now. How long he stays in that spot remains to be seen.
With voluntary offseason workouts underway, the two new quarterbacks are starting to get acclimated to the system and their surroundings.
“I already knew I was going to do everything I can to be the best player I can for this team and to help us win a lot of football games,” Dalton said Wednesday. “And that’s been my goal from the very beginning. And so whatever happens after this year happens. But my mindset didn’t change just because they drafted Justin.”
The Bears assured Dalton he would not be competing with veteran Nick Foles for the starting job when he agreed to a one-year, $10 million contract in March. But there were no guarantees they wouldn’t bring in a young quarterback.
That’s exactly what they did when they traded up nine spots with the New York Giants to draft Fields with the No. 11 pick. With that bold move, they made it clear who is the quarterback of the future.
“I’ve had a lot of different conversations with everybody here,” Dalton said. “I knew there was a possibility of it. And so, when it happened, it is what it is. Justin is a great guy, getting to know him the last couple weeks, being around him. He’s going to make the quarterback room better.”
Fields was a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2019 and the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year each of his two seasons at Ohio State after transferring from Georgia. He threw for 5,373 yards, 63 touchdowns and nine interceptions for the Buckeyes.
The Bears are counting on Fields to deliver in a way Mitchell Trubisky never did after being drafted with the No. 2 overall pick in 2017 and solidify a position that has historically been a sore spot for them. They’re also hoping Dalton produces in a way Mike Glennon never did when they signed him that same year.
Glennon struggled through the first four games in 2017 before getting benched. And Trubisky got thrust into the starting role when the Bears hoped to give him a sort of redshirt season.
There are some differences this time. Fields comes with more experience than Trubisky, who started 13 games at North Carolina. And Dalton, who made Pro Bowls playing with Cincinnati from 2011 to 2019, is more accomplished than Glennon.
“He is doing a great job of making anticipatory throws, throwing the ball early,” coach Matt Nagy said. “If there’s one thing that these wide receivers are going to come out of this OTAs and obviously from training camp, too, they’re going to see that when that ball is supposed to be there, that ball is gonna be there. So they better get ready to put their hands up to catch it, you better be at right spot, at the right depth, and be doing your route adjustments accordingly.”
Dalton has thrown for 33,764 yards, 218 touchdowns and 126 interceptions over nine seasons with Cincinnati and one with Dallas. He led the Bengals to the playoffs his first five seasons after they drafted him out of TCU in the second round in 2011, but never won a postseason game.
Dalton was released after Cincinnati drafted Joe Burrow with the No. 1 pick in 2020 and signed with Dallas to back up Dak Prescott last season. He wound up making nine starts with Prescott suffering a season-ending ankle injury.
Now, he’s embracing his opportunity in Chicago.
Dalton said he is “absolutely” a willing mentor for Fields.
“I’m trying to give him advice on certain things, how I would view certain plays, what I’d do with my eyes on certain things, different things that come with experience,” Dalton said.
NOTES: Foles is not participating in practices this week because he is “dealing with some personal things right now,” Nagy said. Foles will get third-team reps behind Dalton and Fields when he returns. … Foles and star WR Allen Robinson were the most notable offensive players absent. On defense, LB Roquan Smith was the only starter present on Wednesday. Nagy said players choosing not to practice have been participating virtually in meetings. … The Bears signed five draft picks on Wednesday: OL Larry Borom, DB Thomas Graham Jr., RB Khalil Herbert, WR Dazz Newsome and DL Khyiris Tonga. Newsome, a sixth-round pick, suffered a shoulder injury during Tuesday’s practice and will “be out for a little while,” Nagy said.
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