On Saturday night, a Bears kicker lined up for a field goal at Soldier Field for the first time since the fateful night of Jan. 6. Eddy Pineiro made that kick — a 33-yarder going into the north end zone — then proceeded to make every other one of the 12 field goals he attempted, including from 53 and 60 yards, during the Bears’ Family Fest practice. 

Elliott Fry connected on seven of his nine attempts, missing from 60 and 48 yards. But the general feeling around Soldier Field, from coach Matt Nagy to what felt like a good majority of the 18,797 in attendance, was one of burgeoning positivity with how the Bears’ kicking battle is going so far. 

“There’s pressure on every kick in Chicago right now,” Nagy said. “So every chance you get, do your best to make it. And if you miss one, come back the next time and make the next one. I think — and maybe I’m crazy — I think they’re doing decent. It’s not the game, but they’re doing pretty good.”

Nagy isn’t crazy — neither Fry nor Pineiro have had a disastrous day over the course of six practices in Bourbonnais and now Saturday’s practice at Soldier Field. We’ve seen Fry make eight of 10 tries in driving rain and a steady crosswind (80 percent, in those conditions, qualifies as impressive). We’ve seen Pineiro see Fry’s 60-yarder and raise him a 63-yarder, which both kickers made. On Saturday, we saw the first 100 percent day for either — and Pineiro did it on a dozen attempts, the most either kicker has had in a day since the start of training camp. 

 

“I was craving a good day like today and just getting over that hump,” Pineiro said. “I always feel like I always miss one or something always goes wrong. But today went well.”

The Bears wanted to see both Pineiro and Fry kick at Soldier Field — previously, one has had a full practice to himself to kick — to see how both would fare in a higher-stakes environment. Granted, there wasn’t much (if any) wind to speak of Saturday night, which can’t be counted on to be the case during the regular season along the lakefront. But getting to kick at Soldier Field was beneficial for both kickers to get an idea of what landmarks at which to aim, and just a general feel for what it’s like to kick there. 

“I think just getting out there and being comfortable in the environment is big for us,” Fry said. “… I always think the more you can kick in a stadium or wherever, the more valuable it’s going to be for you later.”

It’s far too early to definitively say if Fry or Pineiro has an edge in the kicking competition. Pineiro has the bigger leg; Saturday notwithstanding, Fry has been more consistent. But it’s not like Pineiro hasn’t been consistent, and Fry was able to hit a 60-yarder in the first week of training camp. 

The real separation will come in how each kicker fares in the Bears’ four preseason games. The sample size will be smaller, but the importance will be higher. It’s not a guarantee, but we might have an idea of which kicker has the lead by as early as the final whistle of the second or third preseason game.

Or both Fry and Pineiro could continue to steadily hit their kicks, leaving little separation in terms of field goal percentage (in this case, though, the best guess: The guy with the bigger leg wins). Consider Saturday night another encouraging step toward a positive result coming out of this kicking competition, even if there’s still a long way to go on the path to get there. 

“It obviously matters what they're doing right now, we said that you've got to — we need to see everything we can possibly see,” Nagy said. “And then when they get their chances in the preseason that's obviously going to have a lot of weight on it.”