The Bears waived kicker Chris Blewitt Wednesday morning, leaving Eddy Pineiro and Elliott Fry as the remaining members of the twisting-and-turning kicking competition at Halas Hall.
Blewitt initially signed with the Bears after a tryout in February and, along with Fry, emerged from rookie minicamp’s eight-kicker tryout with a roster spot. The Bears traded for Pineiro shortly after rookie minicamp. None of those three kickers has ever kicked in a regular season NFL game.
Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor described Blewitt as having a “big leg,” though the Bears are able to quantify just how big that leg is. The team has used tracking devices to collect data on ball speed and trajectory, as well as charting makes and misses and evaluating each player’s mental approach, to paint a full picture of their kicking competition.
“A guy could make a field goal and the ball goes through sideways and it doesn’t look like an NFL kick,” Tabor said. “And everyone says boy, he made it — but that’s what I call an ugly make. And when you’re doing that in practice it’s probably going to translate into ugly misses in the game. So when you look at ball speed, how fast does he get the ball up and those type of things, those are important factors that are realistic at their position.”
During Tuesday’s veteran minicamp practice, though, Matt Nagy called for each of the team’s three kickers to attempt a 42-yard field goal with “Augusta silence,” and all three missed.
“For today, we can't have that,” Nagy said. “We are going to figure this thing out but 0-for-3 today, no good."
As things stand with two days of veteran minicamp left, the Bears will head into their summer break with two kickers on their roster. That could change for the start of training camp, though Nagy has previously indicated some discomfort with carrying more than two kickers on the roster, let alone to Bourbonnais.
So Fry and Pineiro will battle in front of throngs of fans at Olivet Nazarene University still scarred from Cody Parkey’s miss, and still hoping Robbie Gould could wind up getting his way and returning to Chicago. That’ll provide a pressure-packed environment for both even before Nagy throws each a few curveballs (which may or may not involve the media).
There’s a chance one could be cut during camp and another kicker could be brought in. And there’s similarly a chance the Bears could declare a “winner” by granting a roster spot on cut-down day, and then release that “winner” a day later in favor of a player added via the waiver wire.
"We have to just keep trusting our evaluation of these three kickers,” Nagy said Tuesday, prior to the team cutting Blewitt. “It's not just one person, it's all of us together. We talk it through and we figure it out and we do everything we possibly can to make sure that in the end when we get to the very end, we have the right guy there."