Justin Fields is set to return to training with broken ribs – but Andy Dalton is expected to get junior reps as the Chicago Bears prepare for the NFL’s leading Arizona Cardinals

Justin Fields will return to practice for the Chicago Bears on Wednesday afternoon, but Andy Dalton is expected to get his starting delegates, increasing the chance that the veteran will be the quarterback on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.

Coach Matt Nagy said Fields will play for the first time since suffering a broken rib in the November 21 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

“I love where it is,” Nagy said.

However, to say that Dalton will take reps with the Novices is at least a sign that the Bears are preparing to roll with him a week after they threw for 317 yards in a 16-14 victory over the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. It was the first time this season that the Bears crossed 300 yards.

Naji has been clear that the depth chart remains unchanged, and the fields are the start when you’re healthy. If not cleared completely, it leaves the door open for Dalton, who has completed 64.3% of his passes this season for 788 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. None of the quarterbacks were made available to the media on Wednesday, which is usually the day of the week that freshmen speak.

If the Bears (4-7) want to keep their playoff hopes alive, they have little margin for error in the remaining six weeks. They are trailing Washington (5-6) for seventh and final place in the playoffs of the conference, but six other teams have five or four wins. It’s a mixed mess of teams trying to make their way back into the .500.

It’s worth at least wondering if Nagy and crew think Dalton gives the Bears a better chance of winning than Fields if the Novice is fighting through the pain.

“With Andy being able to come in here and get those delegates today, that would really allow us to go on every day seeing, ‘Justin, where are you?'” Nagy said. “What is your pain today? How is it when you throw? We should be able to say, “Is this something that we feel would be the best it could be for us to help us win this match?” Or will it hurt him more or hurt us? As the week goes on, we’re working on it all.”

Cardinals check their injury problems. Quarterback Kyler Murray (ankle) and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (hamstring) have missed the last three games. As his team arrives for the game, Cardinals coach Cliff Kingsbury said Monday that he “hopes” both of them will be back on Sunday at Soldier Field. Murray and Hopkins are expected to be limited to the Cardinals’ injury report later today.

The Cardinals have the best NFL record with a 9-2 score. They are 6-0 on the road, having played well defensively all season. Defense was especially dominant away from home. The Cardinals’ road victories came by margins of 25, 12, 17, 23, 14 and 10 points. They have not given up more than 20 points in a road game and are the third team in league history to win at least their first six road games by 10 or more points, joining the 1968 Dallas Cowboys (seven) and 1936 Bears (six).

The Cardinal ranks fifth in total defense, fourth in defense, third in third, and fourth in defense scoring, so whether it’s Fields or Dalton, a faltering attack will have a tough job. With any luck, the fields will be back in action soon as the bears remain optimistic that they will see signs of development in the extended range.

“We have to make sure that he is in a safe place,” Nagy said. “It’s important for him to keep growing away from that momentum of the last two games. You know we went into that (first) half against Baltimore and I think (the Ravens) did a good job and then unfortunately (Fields) got hurt.

“I really felt like those last two games before that he had some moments there where you could feel him growing. I saw him in practice – I really started to see him. So that’s part of the midfield life in this league.”

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