The Bears on Sunday waived kicker Elliott Fry, a move that leaves Eddy Pineiro as the only kicker on their roster.
In the first two preseason games, Pineiro made 3-of-4 field-goal attempts, while Fry converted 1-of-2 field-goal tries and 2-of-2 extra points.
“Both kickers for us have done a really good job at really competing,” said coach Matt Nagy. “It wasn’t an easy decision for us. The thing that we liked about both of them was they both did a lot better than where we thought they were in OTAs.
“It was collaborative between all of us as a group—[general manager] Ryan [Pace], myself and obviously our special teams coaches. We wish Elliott the best and we’ll move forward here with Eddy.”
The reason the Bears acted Sunday was that they wanted to give Pineiro—who they deemed the better of the two kickers—more opportunities to prove he deserves the job in practice and the final two preseason games.
The Bears will visit the Colts in Indianapolis Saturday night before returning home to host the Titans the following Thursday night at Soldier Field.
“The biggest thing is what it enables us to do now with two preseason games left is get more kicks essentially,” Nagy said.
“Now you’re not splitting reps in the preseason game and then I think, too, there’s a little bit of the mental mindset as well for Eddy to understand that and now that these next two games will be great for him to get out there and get reps, and the volume will pick up a little bit for him.”
For the first time since the Bears acquired Pineiro in a trade with the Raiders May 7, he will be the only kicker on the roster.
“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.
“Again, 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.”
Since missing his first field-goal attempt—a 48-yarder in the preseason opener against the Panthers, Pineiro has made all three of his tries: a 23-yarder versus Carolina and 41- and 27-yarders Friday night against the Giants.
Fry hit a 43-yard field goal against the Panthers before missing a 47-yarder wide left versus the Giants. He converted the only extra-point try the Bears attempted in both games.
Asked about the Bears’ decision to keep Pineiro over Fry, Nagy said: “Over time there was a body of work throughout both [preseason games]. I told you, there’s a weight to the preseason games. They both missed in the preseason, so there's that. But we've had a lot of reps and a lot of good looks at them over OTAs and preseason and training camp.
“So, again, it’s never easy. I hate those conversations with the guys because they’re part of us. For Elliott, he’s a part of us. But there’s only one spot and we felt like now’s the time.”
While Pineiro defeated Fry in their competition, it’s important to note that the job has not yet been won. The Bears could still bring in another kicker in advance of their Sept. 5 regular-season opener against the Packers.
“Like any position, we’re always going to be looking for the best,” Nagy said. “I think for Eddy, though, he needs to understand that we feel really good with where he’s at. 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. And not just at that position—every position until we make that final 53.”
Pineiro entered the NFL last year with the Raiders as an undrafted free agent from Florida. It appeared that he was going to beat out veteran Mike Nugent for the Raiders job last summer, but Pineiro sustained a groin injury in training camp that landed him on injured reserve.
Pineiro appeared in one preseason game with Oakland, converting 3-of-3 field-goal attempts from 21, 48 and 45 yards in a 16-10 win over the Lions.
Pineiro is the most accurate field-goal kicker in Florida history, having made 88.4 percent of his attempts (38 of 43) with a long of 54 yards. The Miami native converted 29 of his last 30 field-goal tries for the Gators, including his final 16.