After an exhaustive offseason search to find a kicker for the 2019 season, the Chicago Bears are finally entering the home stretch with two candidates, Elliott Fry and Eddy Pineiro. The two training camp kickers each had chances in last night game, and it was Fry that took the early preseason lead by acing his lone extra point try and nailing a 43-yard field goal.
Yes I said a 43-yard field goal.
“Obviously, that number’s been ingrained into my memory,’ said Fry after the game. But Fry calmly made the kick, even after Carolina Panthers’ head coach Ron Rivera tried to ice him with a time out. Coach Rivera even admitted after the game that he called the time out because he knew the Bears are in the midst of a kicking competition and he wanted to help.
After the make, the Soldier Field crowd roared like this was a regular season game and not week one of preseason.
Pineiro, who I thought was the clubhouse leader in the competition from their work in Bourbonnais, went 1 for 2 on field goal tries, making a short 23-yarder but missing from 48.
“I didn’t expect to miss my first kick,” Pineiro said. “But you gotta bounce back, that’s part of being a kicker, showing them that you’re mentally tough.”
If the Fry and Pinero show doesn’t have a happy ending for the Bears, at least they got an up close and personal look at Carolina’s Joey Slye who went 3 for 3 on field goals (including a 55-yarder) and 2 for 2 on extra points. The Panthers top kicking option, Graham Gano, had the night off, making Slye a trade candidate for a kicker needy team.
The Baltimore Ravens are another team that have a kicker likely to be on the market soon, because Justin Tucker is one of the best in the NFL, and he isn’t leaving Baltimore. So that leaves their number two kicker, Kaare Vedvik, a likely trade option. He made all four field goals and both extra points that he tried last night against the Jaguars, and he also shined as their backup punter with 2 punts for 111 yards.
Fry came into this competition known for his accuracy, and if he keeps it up I think the job is his to lose, but there could be some options before week one against the Packers.
The Bears will be back at practice on Saturday in the training camp finale, then it’s on to Halas Hall before preseason week two in New York against the Giants on Friday, August 16.