The Bears are having kicker Eddy Pineiro take things easy this week as he continues to nurse a pinched nerve in his right (kicking) leg.
The rookie won’t go to Soldier Field to kick ahead of Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings, though special teams coordinator Chris Tabor indicated that also had something to do with a rainy forecast for the final day of practice this week. But while Pineiro was seen visibly limping during Monday night’s game against Washington, the Bears aren’t concerned about his injury getting any worse going forward.
“There’s going to be a little bit of pain there, but there’s nothing structurally wrong,” Tabor said. “There’s a lot of players out there playing through pain and that’s no different.”
Tabor liked the way Pineiro hit the ball during warmups on Monday, and said his kicker’s only miss of the night — pregame or in-game — came on the 44-yarder that went wide right in the third quarter. The expectation, then, remains that Pineiro will play Sunday against the Vikings.
But while the Bears don’t believe the injury can get worse — which could be the case with a pulled muscle, for instance — they don’t appear willing to let Pineiro kick off until he’s feeling better. Coach Matt Nagy said Wednesday the violent nature of kickoffs, with a long run-up and attempt to hit the ball as hard as he can, is something that’ll be left to punter Pat O’Donnell for the time being.
So the upshot here is while the Bears do have a contingency plan in place for Pineiro, it doesn't appear they'll have to use it, at least in the short term. The Bears’ off week is in less than two weeks, which will provide Pineiro an extended window to nurse his leg back to 100 percent. Also worth noting: As long as Pineiro is on the plane to London next week, the Bears will send a 2021 seventh-round pick to the Oakland Raiders to complete the May's trade to acquire him.
But it's plain to see how much the team has grown to trust Pineiro over the last few weeks, especially in light of the 53-yard game-winning kick he drilled in Denver earlier this month. And that a hobbled Pineiro made a field goal after his first miss of the season on Monday only grew the Bears’ confidence in him.
“Real proud of him,” Tabor said. “I think that’s another step in the right process. I was thinking about this the other night, we’ve been checking off boxes and trust me, there’s a lot more boxes to check off, especially as the weather turns here. But that’s a good sign. I’m proud of him for doing that but we expect him to do that and he did it.”