The talk coming into camp was that Eddy Piñeiro was the strong-legged kicker who possessed the talent to possibly cut through the unforgiving Soldier Field wind. But in Saturday’s practice, it was Elliott Fry who showed off his leg strength with successful attempts from 50+ and 60 yards.
Nearly 24 hours later, it was Piñeiro who served up a reminder that he has plenty of leg:
Bears say the official distance was 63 yards.
— Siera Santos (@SieraSantos) July 28, 2019
Piñeiro went 7-for-8 on his field goal tries one day after his camp competition knocked through 9-of-10 attempts. The most impressive kick was a 63-yarder to close out his morning while fans chanted “Ed-dy! Ed-dy! Ed-dy!” in support.
And as Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune tweets, it was Piñeiro who went to Special Teams Coordinator Chris Tabor and insisted on kicking from 63 on Sunday. It takes some stones to put your neck (or in this case, leg) out there, then follow up by drilling the kick.
The Bears’ kicking competition is off to an encouraging start with Fry and Piñeiro combining to go 16-for-18 (88.9 percent) in the first two public practices. Both Fry and Piñeiro knew the spotlight was going to be on them throughout the offseason, but doing it in front of a fan base that buzzes every time it’s time for the kickers to step on the field really amps up the competition. So to see Fry land an early haymaker by connecting on 9 of 10 kicks, only to see Piñeiro deliver a strong counter in return on Sunday is the biggest news to come from camp in the early going. Because while the Bears weren’t going to pick a kicker after two public practices, a slip up from Piñeiro could have swayed perception moving forward.
Through two practices, you could see how the Bears decided on Fry and Piñeiro being the kickers brought into camp. Fry brings professional experience and leg strength that looks better than what it did when he was a SEC standout at South Carolina. Piñeiro offers up a strong leg who can kick it from distance with ease.
Things between Piñeiro and Fry will only heat up from here. And even though there is a major difference between kicking on a breezy summer morning in July and on a chilly evening in January, the kicker who can take the heat in July and August could emerge as winner of the Bears’ competition and land on the season-opening 53-man roster in September. Stay tuned!