Chicago Bears quarterback Andy Dalton dodged a significant knee injury.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday morning that initial exams on Dalton showed no ACL tear and no damage to the MCL, per a source informed of the injury. An MRI confirmed that Dalton merely suffered a bone bruise in his knee.
Coach Matt Nagy confirmed Dalton did not tear his ACL, adding the club would know more about the QB's timeline later tonight.
Despite the injury to Dalton, Nagy wasn't prepared to discuss whether Justin Fields would take over as the Bears' starter.
Asked if Dalton is the starter if healthy, Nagy replied, "That's something that I'm not going to get into with scheme."
Suggested who starts at QB is not scheme-related, Nagy replied, "Of course it is. That's 100% scheme. That's 100% scheme."
Later, Nagy clarified his stance, having Bears PR deliver a message from the coach that Dalton is the team's starting QB when he's healthy, per Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Nagy's initial insistence that Dalton vs. Fields is a scheme matter tacitly indicates the difference in what the Bears plan to run if the rookie is on the field rather than the veteran.
We'll have to wait until later in the week to see if Dalton is healthy enough to play in Sunday's Week 3 bout against the Cleveland Browns or Nagy will finally name Fields the starter. Dalton, even less mobile than when healthy, wouldn't portend to a great matchup versus Myles Garrett, Jadeveon Clowney and the rest of the Browns defensive front.
Dalton looked liked he might have suffered a major knee injury after hobbling on the sideline following a 14-yard scamper in the second quarter of Sunday's 20-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. The veteran QB returned the next series but looked uncomfortable.
Dalton limped to the locker room and was eventually listed as doubtful to return to the game. The QB was on the sideline as Fields finished out the victory.
Dalton moved the ball well early against his former team, completing 9 of 11 passes for 56 yards and a touchdown.
Fields took over and had an up-and-down performance, experiencing growing pains many rookie QBs go through.
The first-round pick threw a late INT when he didn't see a defender dropping into coverage. Fields also fumbled after getting blasted on the blind side but was able to pounce on the loose ball.
Amid the struggles, however, there were flashes of what makes Fields special. On the final drive, the rookie shed a tackle and picked up a key first down to melt the clock away and secure the win as the Bengals clawed back into the contest. His mobility opens up the Bears' offense in ways Dalton cannot.
Fields finished a pedestrian 6-of-13 passing for 60 yards and an INT, adding 10 rushes for 31 yards. Despite the poor box score, the rookie QB still made some impressive throws, with a dart called back due to penalty and Allen Robinson dropping a beautiful deep pass that could have been a touchdown.
Nagy insisted all offseason that Dalton was his starter until something tipped the scales. The injury could open that door for the Bears to give Fields the job, even if it turns out Dalton isn't seriously injured. As we saw last year in Los Angeles, when a freak injury to Tyrod Taylor paved the way for Justin Herbert to start, rookies rarely give the job back once they get on the field.
For now, Nagy is keeping his plans close to the vest.