Chris Blewitt and Elliott Fry have passed the first round of examinations, but last weekend’s kicking competition is far from over.
There are 122 days between now and when the Bears and Packers open up the NFL’s centennial season on September 5 at Soldier Field. Keep that in mind when digesting any news that crosses the wire regarding Chicago’s place-kicking conundrum. Because, let’s face it, the decision on who will be the Bears’ kicker when Week 1 rolls around is a long way from being made.
Head Coach Matt Nagy said as much over the weekend, even if was in a roundabout and indirect kind of way: “There’s so many things that can go on between now and the start of the season, that I wish I could tell you I knew this was going to happen,” Nagy said, via Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune. “But I really honestly don’t have an answer for you on that.”
Answers will come in due time. But only after Nagy and the Bears re-create a pressure-packed atmosphere like the one eight kickers entered during the team’s weekend mini-camp during the team’s upcoming OTAs. Because a weekend competition with fellow rookies is one thing, one with the on-looking eyes of the veterans whose season could very well ride on your leg is something totally different.
Nagy indicated he would bring anywhere between 2-4 kickers to the team’s upcoming OTAs, which will take place from May 21-23, May 29-31, and June 4-7. There is also a mandatory mini-camp scheduled for June 11-13, which will be the team’s final set of practices before training camp begins in July. We should have a better feel for what the Bears’ kicking situation will look like by that point. If not, then it’s likely that something will have gone off-script along the way. Wouldn’t that be unfortunate? Or perhaps the Bears could stumble across two kickers who practice well enough to merit further competition. Hey, all endings surrounding the kicking game don’t have to be unhappy ones.
To be clear, our preference would be for the Bears to solve their kicking problems sooner, rather than later. It would great for everyone’s collective heart-rates if the front office had a kicker it could scoop up right now, set as the place-kicker, and walk away from the situation feeling better than it did in early January. But because that player isn’t readily available, the Bears are traveling an alternative path to find their guy. And while the Bears probably should have gone down this route before getting to this point, it’s better to be late to the party than not show up at all.