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LAKE FOREST – One of the most compelling things for Bears’ fans to watch for over the final six games of the 2021 season is the progress of the team’s top quarterback.

Of course, Justin Fields has to get on the field for that to happen, and that remains a question as the team looks ahead to one of their biggest tests of the season on Sunday.

Ahead of their game with the NFC-leading Cardinals on Sunday, the quarterback is expected to practice on Wednesday. This comes after Fields missed the Bears’ Thanksgiving Day victory over the Lions after suffering cracked ribs against the Ravens the previous Sunday.

Per Matt Nagy, Andy Dalton will get the first team reps during the workout at Halas Hall, though the coach has already said that Fields remains the starter when healthy. With the young quarterback, the process will very much be practice-to-practice when it comes to his status for the game at Soldier Field Sunday.

“Each day, we’ve just got to say, OK, once you go through the day of practice, however much it is, we’ve got to be able to say, OK, for us going into it, is this something that we feel that he’s going to be the best he can be to help win us that game or is it going to hurt him more, or hurt us,” said Nagy. “So we’re kinda, as the week goes on, working through all that. There’s the injury report statuses that go on, and we’ve got to see, OK, where’s he gonna be each day and hopefully there’s improvement.

“Within that, we gotta be able to also continue to move forward, you know, so that’s where there’s just us understanding Justin, our doctors, our trainers, and then Andy’s side, too.

Getting Fields back, naturally, would be ideal as the team hopes to continue his development in his first season as he continues to grow into his role as the long-term franchise quarterback. The injury came just as the quarterback was enjoying the best two-game stretch of his career against the 49ers and Steelers.

In those two contests, Fields was 36-of-56 for 466 yards and two touchdowns compared to two interceptions. He also had his first 100-yard rushing game against San Francisco that included a touchdown run.

At the moment, however, health takes priority for Fields as he works his way back to the lineup. Nagy did credit Fields for his mindset during his time out of the lineup, including the game he watched from the sidelines on Thursday.

“We’ve got to make sure medically he’s in a place where he’s safe that way and then, on top of that, when he is, we work through that. It’s important for him to continue to grow off of that momentum that he had those last couple of games,” said Nagy. “We got into that half against Baltimore and I felt they did a good job that first half and then, unfortunately, he got hurt, but I really felt like those last two games prior to that, he had some moments in there that you could feel him growing. You saw him in practice really starting to see it. So this is a part of life of playing quarterback in this league and there’s going to be injuries that happen but he’s done a great job of staying mentally focused.

“Even last week for him on the sideline to kinda get a feel and see from that perspective, some things, I think that’s good for him. We’ll see how it goes this week and keep an eye on everything, but I like where he’s at.”

Nagy hopes that will be back on the Field Sunday around Noon.