Bears

What can the Bears get out of Roberto Aguayo?

What can the Bears get out of Roberto Aguayo?

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, nine kickers have been top-60 draft picks. Some had long, successful careers, like the still-active Sebastian Janikowski (17th overall, 2000) and Jason Hanson (56th overall, 1992). Others, like John Lee (32nd overall, 1986) quickly flamed out of the league.

Roberto Aguayo is one of those nine highly-picked kickers, who came into the league with a lot more pressure — and a lot less competition — than most rookie kickers face. He missed nine of his 31 field goal attempts last year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and also missed two PATs — hardly the level of success the Bucs thought they’d get out of someone who was so good at Florida State. 

After a shaky start to training camp, the Bucs waived Aguayo last week, and on Sunday, the Bears claimed him (HBO's "Hard Knocks" reportedly will air Aguayo finding out he was released Tuesday night). He was in uniform, wearing No. 1, for Monday’s final training camp practice at Olivet Nazarene University, and said he’s excited to put his experience in Tampa behind him. 

“It’s unfortunate,” Aguayo said. “What we both wanted, — it just never flourished. I’m excited to be here with the Bears and I'm excited for this fresh opportunity and a new start.”

Perhaps a fresh start is what Aguayo needs to re-gain the confidence he built up at Florida State, where he made 88.5 percent of his field goals and didn’t miss a PAT. For the Bears, claiming Aguayo was a low-risk move — coach John Fox said the money they took on wasn’t “significant enough to not take a look.” A week after cutting undrafted rookie Andy Phillips, there’s no competition again for veteran Connor Barth — who came to the Bears after losing his job in Tampa to Aguayo after the 2015 season. 

Barth is familiar with how competitive kicking jobs are during training camp, having made stops in Kansas City (2008), Tampa (2009-2012, 2015) and Denver (2014) before making 78 percent of his field goals for the Bears last year. 

“I don’t think I’ve ever been in training camp without competition, no matter when I signed a new deal with Tampa or whatever, they always brought in competition,” Barth said. “It’s something I’ve always dealt with. … You always hear the old saying, for our position, you kind of competing against yourself. It doesn’t really matter what Roberto does because if I don’t kick well, then I won’t be anywhere. 

“So you just gotta kind of trust what you’ve been doing, focus on yourself and if you make your kicks, whether it’s here, you’re obviously competing for 31 other teams. So you just kind of got to have fun and see what happens.”

On Aguayo’s first day with the Bears, Barth made every field goal he attempted in practice, which didn’t go unnoticed by Fox. 

“Connor had a great day,” Fox said. “We had a field goal day today and he was 100 percent in all of his kicks. So I think that competition is good for our football team.”

The challenge for Aguayo, then, will be to prove he’s more reliable than Barth in about a three-week window of opportunity. That’s a limited timeframe, though it should still be long enough for the Bears to know who their best kicking option is coming out of the preseason. 

“At the end of the day, they’ll decide,” Aguayo said. “It’s out of my hands. I just go and do what I’ve gotta do, focus and hone in. Excited for the fresh start, new scenery. Excited to be here.”

Aaron Lynch misses Bears practice with hamstring injury

lynch.jpg
USA Today

Aaron Lynch misses Bears practice with hamstring injury

The Chicago Bears are thin at outside linebacker after only signing Aaron Lynch to provide a pass rush opposite Leonard Floyd this season. 

Lynch was considered a risky signing in March because of his injury history. He's appeared in only 28 games over the last three years and he's already off to an injured start with the Bears.

Lynch was one of several players to miss Sunday's practice with a hamstring injury, a list that includes fellow starter, Danny Trevathan.

Lynch and Trevathan missed Saturday's practice, too.

Other Bears who sat out on Sunday were Sherrick McManis (hamstring), Daniel Brown (ankle) and Joel Iyiegbuniwe (shoulder). First-round pick Roquan Smith remains a holdout.

Lynch is in a training camp battle with Sam Acho for a starting job and will have to hold off Kylie Fitts and Isaiah Irving as well. The more time he loses to injury, the less and less likely the chances are that he'll become an impact player on defense.

It's still early, and the Bears have an extra week of training camp because of the Hall of Fame game. There's plenty of time for Lynch to get healthy and put this hamstring issue behind him. 

Matt Nagy doesn't care about being a players' coach

matt_nagy_usa_today.jpg
USA Today

Matt Nagy doesn't care about being a players' coach

Matt Nagy is a few days into his first training camp as an NFL head coach, and while he's earned praise from players up and down the Chicago Bears' roster, he said Sunday after practice that he's not concerned with being a player's coach.

"I don't care about the players' coach part," he said, "but I care that they respect me and our coaches. This isn't going to happen overnight, this is something I'm trying to build with the players.

"There's so much stuff that comes into this. There are little areas where were all growing and that's where I think the respect factor comes in for all coaches."

Nagy won't make any friends with his approach to practicing in bad weather. The first few days of Bears camp have been drenched by rain but Nagy hasn't moved practice indoors. Instead, he wants his team to get used to playing in the elements. Hardly a favor to the players, even if it will prepare them for bad weather games this season.

The Bears will debut Nagy and their new offense on August 2 against the Ravens in the Hall of Fame game. Starters will likely play only one series, if at all.