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A day later, Pineiro matches Fry's strong outing


BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – Elliott Fry ratcheted up the competition for the Bears' kicking job with a near-perfect performance in Saturday's practice, hitting 9-of-10 field-goal attempts, including a 60-yarder.

A day later, Eddy Pineiro answered by connecting on 7-of-8 kicks in Sunday's workout, capped by a 63-yarder that drew a thunderous ovation from an enthusiastic crowd of 8,813 fans at training camp.

"That was great," said coach Matt Nagy. "Those guys are competing. How do you not love two kickers battling for one spot competing their tails off after everything that's gone on with our team and our city? I appreciate that."

During a field-goal drill Saturday, Fry made 7-of-8 attempts, hitting from 33, 37, 40, 44, 50, 53 and 60 yards after missing his first try from 33 yards. He made two additional kicks from 36 and 48 yards during team drills.

Pineiro also made 7-of-8 tries during the same kicking drill Sunday, connecting from 33, 33, 37, 40, 44, 50 and 63 yards and missing from 53 yards. While he was kicking, the overflow crowd was chanting, "Eddy, Eddy, Eddy."

"I've never seen so many people cheer so loud in a practice before," Pineiro said. "I've heard it in a game. But in a practice, it's unreal. It's awesome."

When Fry was given the option to end the drill or try a final field goal Saturday, he chose to attempt a 60-yarder and nailed it. In the same situation Sunday, Pineiro boldly decided to try a 63-yarder.

"Coach [Chris Tabor] asked me, let's hit 60,'" Pineiro said. "I was like, 'Nah. You guys hit 60 yesterday. We're going 63 today.'"

The final field-goal attempts by both kickers were a bonus they received for being so accurate on their earlier tries.

"You've got to earn it," Nagy said. "You don't get 'dealer's choice' if you miss kicks. One [missed] kick sounds like it enables you to get dealer's choice. We're going to continue just having these guys have this kick off and this kicking challenge and see who ends up with the best production." 

Pineiro acknowledged that Fry's performance motivated him.

"I felt it," Pineiro said. "You think it. You feel it. You know you've got to come out and try to do better than the next guy. The goal is being better than the next guy and that's why, like I said, '60 yesterday, OK I'm going 63.'"

The Bears are having Pineiro and Fry alternate days in training camp rather than taking turns in the same practice.

"You just mentally prepare that you're the guy that day; all the eyes are on you," Pineiro said. "I like it."

The kicking competition has and will continue to be a major storyline in training camp. Battling for a job on a Bears team with Super Bowl aspirations, there's a lot of pressure on the two kickers.

Pineiro told reporters that he deals with the pressure by "just breathing, staying focused, not trying to think about it too much."

"If you start thinking about everything, you'll go crazy," he said. "Mentally I was just staying calm. I know that I had to do my job. My job's on the line every day. Everybody's job's on the line every day."