LAKE FOREST – For now, the Bears have a winner in their kicking competition for the 2019 season. But there’s still over two weeks till the opener against the Packers, and there will be other players out there should the Bears choose to make a late change.
Eddy Pineiro knows that, even after the faith the Bears showed him on Sunday morning.
The release of Elliott Fry gives him the job all to himself at the moment, as Pineiro now takes the full set of reps in practice and in games.
That gives the second-year kicker, whom the Bears traded to get from the Raiders this spring, the insider track for the job that’s attracted plenty of attention this offseason.
“It does give me a confidence boost. You’re like ‘OK, I have a shot to be the guy and prove to the coaches that, hey, I can be the guy that they want me to be,'” said Pineiro on Sunday morning. “I feel a lot more confident, yeah.”
Yet Pineiro’s not gonna rely on that for total comfort.
“I feel like I haven’t won the competition,” said Pineiro. “Everything’s still open. Who knows if they’ll bring somebody else in.”
Nagy didn’t rule it out when he spoke to the media on Sunday but did make it clear that Pineiro has bested his first competition in the 2019 season.
“It’s a great opportunity for him to see what he can do.” said Nagy of the release of Fry to give Pineiro the top kicking the rest of the preseason. “Human nature is whenever there is two people for one spot; No. 1, every rep is getting cut in half, and then mentally, you just don’t know.
“Now there is a little more clarity and, again, it wasn’t easy. They were very close, but that’s what we decided to do; we’re rolling forward with it now. He has two games here to show us what he can do.”
After going 1-for-2 against Carolina in the first preseason contest, Pineiro made both of his kicks against the Giants on Friday, hitting from 41 yards in the first quarter then 27 before the end of the first half.
Fry missed his only field goal attempt of the night from 47 yards in the second quarter while also hitting an extra point. He’d made his only field goal and extra point attempt in the first preseason game against the Panthers.
“I feel like I’ve done well, I feel like I’ve kicked well. From OTAs to where I am today, I feel like I’m a completely different kicker,” said Pineiro.
Things are quite different now for Eddy, who has a clear path to the job he’s wanted since joining the Bears this spring.