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Bears, Tabor confident Piñeiro will bounce back


The Bears are sticking with kicker Eddy Piñeiro.

In light of two missed field goals against the Los Angeles Rams, special teams coordinator Chris Tabor faced questions about his faith in the first-year kicker.

Having spent much of the offseason offering updates about the competition that produced Piñeiro, Tabor understands the pressure of being the kicker for the Bears.

"I understand the narrative going in," said Tabor. "I really do. And it's been quiet for a real long time, and it reared its head on Sunday. Our job is to help him in this little dip right here to shoot right out of it quickly."

The Bears did not bring any potential replacements to Halas Hall this week, which Piñeiro viewed as a vote of confidence.

"He said, 'you're my guy," Piñeiro said of Tabor. "I'm not bringing anybody in, and we're going to go through this process together. We're going to be going through it — the highs and the lows — together.'"

Piñeiro's season, by his own admission, has been a bit of a rollercoaster. From a game-winning kick in Denver in Week 2 to a missed would-be game-winner against the Los Angeles Chargers six weeks later. Tabor said that Piñeiro was in a rut and needed the opportunity to gain momentum.

Tabor said that Piñeiro's misses on Sunday were not the product of deficient technique, just two semi-related errors. On the first field goal, Piñeiro put too much leg on the ball. On the second, he overcorrected. 

The ball travels differently in the warm weather of Los Angeles than in Chicago in mid-November. Tabor believes that Piñeiro, whose prior experience kicking was almost entirely in the southern United States, needs to adjust to the variety of climates he'll face playing in the NFC North.

"Going from kicking in the cold and then going to a nice weather place," said Piñeiro, "you just want to kill the ball, and the ball's going a lot farther than it usually does when you kick in the cold."

Both Tabor and Piñeiro emphasized that the difference in temperatures was an explanation, not an excuse. Piñeiro said that he was determined to improve through the finals weeks of the season. Earlier this week, Piñeiro connected on 21 or 23 kicks at practice at Soldier Field.

"There's no excuses," said Piñeiro. "I've gotta make all my kicks. But I'm learning on my way. This is my first time kicking in the cold, different situations with wind and stuff like that. Learning experience. Gotta be confident and go out there and try my best."

Beyond Piñeiro's leg strength, Tabor believes the young kicker has the right mindset to grow as a kicker. As is the case for many positions in football, a short memory is essential to building a kicker.

"We've had a little bit of adversity this year," said Tabor, "and he's come over on the other side each and every time. But he's a confident kid. And I don't see any bugs in there or snakes in his head that I'm worried about."