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Bulking up should give Piñeiro a stronger leg


Bears kicker Eddy Piñeiro recently revealed on a video call with the media that he had added eight pounds of muscle this offseason and now weighs 187 pounds.

"I think it will help especially later on in the year when the weather turns and it gets colder and you're trying to generate more power," special-teams coordinator Chris Tabor said last week during a video call with reporters.

"He's putting on good weight and I think that's going to help his strength and his endurance as the year goes on. He looks great, and I look forward to seeing him live."

With the Bears forced to conduct their entire offseason program on a virtual basis due to the coronavirus, Tabor hasn't worked with Piñeiro face-to-face since the 2019 season ended. But Tabor knows that Piñeiro and punter Pat O'Donnell have been working out together two or three times a week on a football field in a Miami park.

"The best way to monitor them, to be honest with you, is you have to trust your players," Tabor said. "We have Zoom calls and we talk about what took place during that workout, things that we wanted to get accomplished before the workout, and then after the workout, did we accomplish those things?

"But guys have to be pros, and I feel like they are. So hopefully when they get back, we're ready to roll."

In his first season with the Bears last year, Piñeiro made 82.1 percent of his field-goal attempts (23 of 28). The team was impressed with how he rebounded from a mini midseason slump to hit his final 11 field-goal tries over the last six games.

Piñeiro was acquired last May in a trade with the Raiders in exchange for a conditional seventh-round draft pick. He won a competition for the job with Elliott Fry in training camp and the first couple weeks of the preseason after the Bears had evaluated several other kickers in their rookie minicamp.

A year later, Piñeiro will be challenged by Ramiz Ahmed, who signed with the Bears April 17. Ahmed last kicked competitively at the University of Nevada in 2018, when he made 15-of-20 field-goal attempts (75.0 percent). After not playing football while attending UNLV and Arizona State, he made the Wolf Pack team as a kickoff specialist in 2017 following a tryout.

"Eddy did a lot of good things last year and there's things we wish that he would have done better," Tabor said. "That's any player. But there's always going to be competition. Eddy's not comfortable; he's still chasing it, and we have a lot of confidence in him. But at the end of the day, you've got to perform and he understands that, so I think he'll be fine."

Ahmed worked out for Tabor last spring and made a positive impression. He noted at the time that Ahmed was a prospect the Bears should continue to track and monitor.

Ahmed was signed by the Bears after another strong performance at a free-agent camp run by former NFL special-teams coach Gary Zauner in Arizona March 8-10.

"I saw [Ahmad] there and he was really striking the ball really well," Tabor said. "You could tell he cleaned some things up technically from the last spring. So I actually saw some growth and just thought this is a guy who deserves an opportunity. We're always going to have a couple of guys in camp, so I don't think that's anything off the charts on that deal. But he struck the ball well, and we're going to give him a shot."