The Bears waived Elliott Fry Sunday morning, but in doing so also sent this message: Eddy Pineiro still has work to do to be the team’s kicker the night of Sept. 5.
Coach Matt Nagy made clear the Bears will continue to be active in monitoring other kickers who could become available in the coming weeks, even though Pineiro is the only kicker on the roster. And Pineiro is certainly cognizant of the fact he hasn’t won the Bears’ job yet, even if stands alone for now.
“The way I look at it, I feel like I haven’t won the competition,” Pineiro said. “Everything’s still open. Who knows if they bring somebody else in.
“… With the whole kicking struggle from last year, they got us on thin ice here.”
The Bears signed Fry after a tryout in February, and he was the last remaining participant of the eight kickers who worked out during May’s rookie minicamp. Clearly, the Bears determined through months of evaluation and two preseason games Fry wasn’t goin got be their Week 1 kicker, so there was little reason to keep him on the roster and take kicks away from Pineiro over the next 11 days.
Fry missed a 47-yard field goal in Friday’s preseason game against the New York Giants, though before the game general manager Ryan Pace said on FOX-32 the competition between Fry and Pineiro was close. Pineiro, though, has consistently shown better leg strength since the Bears acquired him May 7 from the Oakland Raiders for a 2021 conditional seventh-round draft pick.
The Bears believe the decision to part ways with Fry will give Pineiro the best chance at proving he can be their Week 1 kicker, with five practices and two games remaining between Sunday and cut-down day.
“The way I look at it is it’s a great opportunity for him to see what he can do,” Nagy said. “Human nature is whenever there’s two people for one spot, No. 1, every rep is getting cut in half and then mentally you just don’t know. Now there’s a little more clarity.
“It wasn’t easy because they were very close. But that’s what we decided to do. We’re rolling forward with that and now he has two games here to show us what he can do.”
Pineiro felt he would’ve won the Oakland Raiders’ kicking job last summer had he not suffered an injury in August, and he hasn’t shown any lack of confidence in his own ability to win the Bears’ gig. But even with Fry out of the picture, Pineiro will still have to earn that job over the next two weeks.
“He needs to understand that we feel really good with where he's at,” Nagy said. “He's never kicked in an NFL game before. So that could go a couple different ways. It could go really good, it could go really bad. We don't know that answer.
“But for right now, we feel good with where he's at. We want him to keep kicking like he's been. But we're always going to keep that thing open.”