One by one, each of the Bears’ eight kickers in attendance for rookie minicamp lined up to attempt a 43-yard field goal at the end of Friday’s practice at Halas Hall. If that distance sounds familiar, it’s because it was intentional.
It’s the distance from which Cody Parkey’s double-doink happened four months ago.
“That was on purpose,” Nagy said. “… They know loud and clear why.”
From the group of Chris Blewitt, Casey Bednarski, Redford Jones, Elliott Fry, Emmit Carpenter, John Baron II, Spencer Evans and Justin Yoon: Two kickers made the attempt. Six missed.
There were issues with snaps/holds on two of the misses, but as Nagy put it: “That’s not good enough.” Since Nagy didn’t divulge who made and who missed the kicks, we’re not permitted to tell you who did (the media was present for the practice, but is not allowed to report on specifics unless addressed by Nagy, per the team’s media policy).
Earlier in practice, though, it wasn’t a coincidence that Nagy shouted Fry’s name during an impromptu break in the action. Fry trotted out and connected on a try from — you guessed it — 43 yards.
And so, the Bears’ unorthodox, wide-open kicking competition began Friday at Halas Hall. Nagy said last weekend he didn’t want Parkey to be the elephant in the room, and that it was okay to talk about the searingly painful double-doink within the team’s facility. Nagy certainly communicated the significance of 43 yards to every kicker who attempted a kick from that distance today, with that message part of an overall effort to create some pressure on these players.
“We have a method to our madness,” Nagy said. “And again, I think for us just besides finding a kicker, right, and being able to see what they can do in practice, we want to be able to see as much as we can in game situations how they handle that too. Because it’s one thing to be able to go over and bang 8-for-8 when it doesn’t really matter, but what about when it matters, you know? And that’s what we’re trying to figure out too. Because we have young kickers who don’t have a lot of experience. So we have to create that.”
One day packed full of charting kicking attempts isn’t going to determine who’s the favorite to win the job, let alone who will stick around after this weekend. The Bears have four kickers on their roster (Blewitt, Jones, Fry, Baron II) with the other four here on tryouts, but a roster spot Friday hardly guarantees a roster spot Monday. Sept. 5’s season opener against the Green Bay Packers is still more than four months away.
But there hasn’t been a positional competition with this much intrigue and importance in a long time, maybe ever, at Halas Hall. There’s a reason why nearly the entire Chicago-based media corps was watching the kickers, and not the likes of David Montgomery and Duke Shelley and the offensive and defensive players, on Friday.
"I'm surprised you're starting with that question," Nagy sarcastically quipped, when the first query lobbed to him after Friday's practice was about the kicking competition.
Better get used to it.