The Chicago Bears’ offseason search to find a new kicker might not yet be over, but it’s coming into focus now.
On Sunday, Bears head coach Matt Nagy said the team waived Elliott Fry, who was in a two-kicker battle with Eddy Piniero for the starting job.
But Piniero might not have won the Week 1 job just yet. The Bears want to give him the chance to lock that up over the final two weeks of the preseason.
“The next two games will be great for him to get out there and get some reps,” Nagy said.
Fry missed a 47-yard try in Friday’s preseason game at the New York Giants. He had been the more accurate kicker early in their training camp battle, but his missed kick Friday — pushing his try left — didn’t help matters.
It appears Piniero has the stronger leg, and he’s rallied after a slow start. After missing one of two attempts in the preseason opener, Pineiro made field goals of 27 and 41 yards against the Giants.
The Bears face the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday in their third preseason game and wrap up their exhibition season against the Tennessee Titans at Soldier Field on Aug. 29.
Eddy Pineiro says #Bears decision to release Fry is a confidence boost but he knows the job isn’t won yet, “They've got us on thin ice here...if I don’t make kicks I’m going to be gone like anyone else.” Pineiro will get all the reps now & he feels that should help w/ consistency
— Shae Peppler Cornette (@shaepeppler) August 18, 2019
Last season, the Bears’ kicking woes with Cody Parkey escalated at home in Week 10 against the Detroit Lions when he missed four kicks — two field goals and two extra points — by incredibly hitting the crossbar on each of those four tries. In the home playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Parkey “double-doinked” a would-be game-winning field goal as time ran out to end the season.
The Bears have looked high and low this offseason for a solution. But will Piniero be the choice?
Bears still keeping eyes peeled for kickers
It’s clear that the Bears are not yet handing the job to Piniero, whom they acquired from the Oakland Raiders this offseason. They missed out on a big to trade for former Baltimore Ravens kicker Kaare Vedvik, who was dealt last week to the rival Minnesota Vikings for a fifth-round pick.
A name to keep an eye on in case Piniero can’t win the job: Carolina Panthers kicker Joey Slye. In Carolina’s preseason opener against the Bears, Slye made all three of his field goal attempts, including a 55-yarder, which is the second-longest kick of the NFL preseason.
He’s now a perfect 5-of-5 (including two 50-plus yarders) on FG tries, plus 2-of-2 on extra points. He’s also put all of his kickoffs into the end zone this preseason, save for one against the Bears that came down at their 1-yard line.
Slye’s 54-yarder against the Buffalo Bills came as the first-half clock expired. He missed a 58-yard attempt earlier in the game, but it was negated by penalty and he made up for it later on the drive by nailing a 40-yarder.
The Panthers also have veteran Graham Gano on the roster and might not have a spot for Slye.
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