Unless you’re talking about the kick and punt returner, and the guys that run down to cover kicks and punts, the specialists on the Chicago Bears’ roster are mostly set. There isn’t any competition in camp at the punter or long snapper spots, but they did bring in an undrafted free agent to compete with the returning veteran place kicker.
The fact that there’s competition in camp, could lead to them scouring the waiver wire if a quality kicker is cut before the season starts.
My guess, if it appears to be an even match-up, that head coach John Fox goes with the veteran.
Punter Patrick O’Donnell and long snapper Patrick Scales have no competition in camp right now, so they have to feel pretty confident about their chances to open up on the 53 man roster. They can’t get too cocky however, because a bad punt or bad snap could bring on a case of the yips, which could lead to some competition
A good bet to make it
Move along, nothing to see here...
On the bubble
We won’t find out much in the Connor Barth vs Andy Phillips battle until preseason starts. I’d imagine they would rotate kicking attempts one by one, with the best man getting the job as soon as possible. The Bears would likely want to pinpoint their guy and get him all the reps, to ensure he’s all lathered up for the regular season.
Robert broke down Phillips’ chances right here, in what is probably the most comprehensive 900+ word article about him ever:
Barth made his name by being accurate on the shorter field goals, with only six misses among his 98 kicks thirty-nine yards and in. His career field goal percentage of 83.957% is 17th all time, but last year with the Bears he was only 78.3%.
There’s a decent chance Phillips can beat out Barth, but still not open the season as the kicker. Once teams go through final roster cuts, the Bears may pluck an upgrade off the wire.
What are your thoughts on the Bears’ specialists?