LAKE FOREST – Over the last couple of days, he decided to make one major change as his first and likely only season with the Bears comes to an end – his facial hair.
Unlike most of 2021, Andy Dalton wasn’t sporting a beard during practice and his news conference on Friday afternoon at Halas Hall.
“New look, new year,” said the veteran quarterback.
But Dalton won’t just be sporting that on the sideline on Sunday afternoon at US Bank Stadium in the season finale against the Vikings. With Justin Fields still on the COVID-19 reserve list after a positive test on Thursday, the veteran will make the start for a second-consecutive week.
It will be his sixth start of the 2021 campaign, with all but two of those coming filling in for the injured Fields. Dalton was the Bears’ starter to begin the season, but after a Week 2 knee injury and a pair of games missed because of it, the rookie was named the full-time starter before the Week 5 game against the Vikings.
He also appeared in a reserve role against the Raiders and when Fields got hurt against the Ravens in Week 11.
During his first seven games of the season, the veteran quarterback has completed 61.7 percent of his passes for 1,190 yards and seven touchdowns compared to seven interceptions.
This, of course, means that Fields’ rookie season has officially come to an end, which wasn’t necessarily the case even with Thursday’s positive test. Per new NFL guidelines for COVID-19 for vaccinated players, the quarterback could have tested out in time to be on the active roster for the game.
But that won’t happen, as Fields finished his rookie season with 12 games, ten of which were starts. During those contests, he had 1,870 yards passing, completing 58.9 percent of his passes for seven touchdowns compared to ten interceptions. He also rushed for 420 yards (5.8 per carry) with a pair of touchdowns.