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Chicago Bears 2023 Position Battles: Is there intrigue among the specialists?

In this 11-part training camp preview, we’ll go position by position examining the players on the Chicago Bears 90-man roster and their chances to make the team

Miami Dolphins v Chicago Bears Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Chicago Bears decided to add some competition at punter and kicker this offseason, but the newcomers will need to seriously flash in order to knock off the incumbents. There will be no “Augusta silence” drama at Halas Hall, but the two additional legs will add some intrigue to training camp.

“Competition brings the best in everybody,” Bears’ special teams coordinator Richard Hightower said recently via the team’s site. “If you’re a pro at what you do, it really shouldn’t change anything because you should be working like a pro every day. You should be competing against yourself. That’s what I tell them.”

Roster Locks

Kicker Cairo Santos struggled for a few games last year on extra points, but he righted his technique and finished strong. He was 91.3% on field goals last year, which is second all-time in team history behind the 93.8% he had in 2020.

Trenton Gill (aka The Gillotine) had a steady rookie year with a 46-yard punting average, and he kicked off at times as well.

Patrick Scales is the only long snapper in camp, so unless there’s an injury or he suddenly gets the yips, he’ll be around for his tenth year as a pro.

A good bet to make it

Move along, nothing to see here...

On the bubble

The Bears had Ryan Anderson in a couple of times last year when they were facing a lefty punter to give their returners a proper look at the ball of a lefty’s foot. The 28-year-old has been bouncing around pro football since 2018 but has yet to make an NFL roster.

Update: Anderson was waived on July 25, but don't be surprised to see him resurface at Halas Hall during the season before the Bears face a lefty punter if he remains unsigned.

Undrafted rookie free agent Andre Szmyt, from nearby Vernon Hills, is Syracuse’s most prolific kicker in school history and the 13th-highest scorer in NCAA history.