By Ryan Bukowiecki (@ryanbski)
And the plot thickens…as the Chicago Bears released some important kicking news over the weekend.
To this point in training camp and the preseason, there has been a place kicker battle between Elliot Fry and Eddy Pineiro to replace the unfortunate soul who kicked the Bears out of the postseason last January. After Friday’s preseason game against the Giants both kickers missed one kick total in both preseason games as well as being basically identical with their field goal accuracy in practice.
Suddenly, on Sunday, the Bears waived Fry leaving Pineiro as the only kicker on the roster — for now.
Trying to figure out this move by the Bears doesn’t seem to be too difficult. Fry was considered the accurate kicker with the questionable leg strength while Pineiro was the strong leg with some questionable accuracy. But Fry had not distinguished himself as the more accurate kicker to this point and knowing he might not have that NFL leg made this an easier decision.
Pineiro will now have two preseason games and a handful of practices before final cut day to solidify his spot on the roster. Make no mistake though, the Bears are continuing their league wide search to find a potential replacement. Just because Pineiro is the last man standing does not mean he has won the job. The Bears will have options at kicker after final cut day albeit no guarantee those options will be a better than Pineiro.
After the Vikings traded for kicker Kaare Vedvik, the list of kicker options doesn’t have an obvious solution for the Bears. Certainly some aging veterans will be available as well as a couple unproven guys with raw skill. Reality of the situation has really set in now, Pineiro is clearly the best of all the kickers brought into Halas Hall but the organization isn’t fully confident in him.
This next preseason game will be interesting. Piniero has talked about how this kicking competition has been exhausting with the scrutiny behind every kick. Expect that scrutiny to only increase now that he is the last man standing. Coincidentally the Bears play the Colts on Saturday and they have a kicker in Cole Hedlund that is rumored to be a quality prospect like Vedvik was before the trade.
Finding a kicker is becoming a tiresome story for the Bears with all fans praying this doesn’t turn into another horror story. These next two preseason games will be under a microscope league wide at the kicker position for the front office as they look to end the kicking unrest at the kicker position.
Perhaps the best option has been in camp this whole time in Pineiro. Only time will tell.
Ryan Bukowiecki covers the Chicago Bears and professional football for WARR