The Eddy Piñeiro redemption tour began Friday night in New Jersey.
When we last saw Piñeiro in a preseason game, he left Bears fans feeling disappointed when he missed a 48-yard field goal. In the same game, Elliott Fry was making a name for himself by passing the Cody Parkey test. But Piñeiro had a bounce-back performance against the New York Giants, while Fry took a step back. Piñeiro made field goals from 41 and 27 yards. Meanwhile, Fry missed a 47-yarder that was right between the hashmarks.
So if Fry was viewed as having the lead before Friday’s game against the Giants, the combination of his miss and Piñeiro’s makes have likely evened up the race to take the job vacated by Cody Parkey.
In a pre-game interview, GM Ryan Pace offered up his latest assessment of the situation:
During the @foxkickoff interview, Ryan Pace said the Bears' two kickers are "close" in their competition. He stated faith behind Elliott Fry and Eddy Pineiro but indicated the team will monitor around the league for every position, including kicker.
— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) August 16, 2019
In this case, using the word “close” to describe the kicking competition doesn’t inspire too much confidence that the Bears have their Week 1 kicker in house. Further, Pace’s insistence that he will continue to monitor kicking situations around the league suggests neither kicker has done enough to earn a spot on the season-opening 53-man roster. And while there are still two preseason games for either Fry or Piñeiro to make their case for inclusion on the Week 1 roster, it also means there are two weeks for others to stake a claim by showing out in their team’s camp.
For example, Joey Slye continued to kick well for the Panthers. Slye, who stood out for all the right reasons last week, made both of his attempts in preseason Week 2 against the Bills, making kicks from 40 and 54 yards. Two games into his preseason audition, Slye is 5-for-5 and is a perfect 2-for-2 on 50+ yard attempts. If Slye doesn’t supplant Graham Gano in Carolina, he looks to be in line to kick his way onto someone else’s roster by the regular season rolls around.
All signs are pointing to an inevitable down-to-the-wire finish in the Bears’ kicking competition, which isn’t getting any easier to deal with as the preseason rolls on.