BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – After missing his first field-goal attempt from 33 yards in Saturday’s practice, Elliott Fry made six straight kicks from 33, 37, 40, 44, 50 and 53 yards.
At that point, special teams coordinator Chris Tabor asked Fry if he wanted to end the drill or try one more field goal. Fry not only opted for another kick but chose to boot it from 60 yards. He followed by drilling the ball through the uprights, eliciting a thunderous ovation from the Bears fans in attendance.
“He actually told Tabor that he wanted that 60-yarder,” said coach Matt Nagy. “Tabes was going to shut it down and he said, ‘Nah, I want the 60.’ You know, he’s listening to what we’re talking about and he nailed it.”
Fry made 9-of-10 field-goal attempts in Saturday’s practice, later connecting from 36 and 48 yards. Making nine straight after missing his first try was a great way for Fry to kick off (pun intended) his competition with Eddy Pineiro.
“For him mentally, that’s the first kick of the day in front of everybody and he missed it,” Nagy said. “But he bounced right back. So I look at it from that point of view. He was mentally strong enough to bounce back and make the rest of them. And then he put the cherry on top with the 60-yarder.”
After the 60-yarder split the uprights, Fry was embraced by veteran cornerback Prince Amukamara.
“At the end of the day, it’s just competition—it’s just more heightened,” Amukamara said of the attention being paid to the kicking derby. “There’s like a magnifying glass at that position and what our kicker did today, wow, he hit maybe 8-10 in a row.
“The last one, Tabes was saying, ‘Hey, you want to go one more?’ And he said, ‘Let’s go one more from 60.’ Then he knocked it through. Kickers are the same as any other position. You just have to be competitive. You have to believe in yourself and that’s what [Fry] showed today.”
Pineiro will get his opportunity in Sunday’s workout. The Bears entered training camp planning for the two kickers to alternate every practice.
“That’s part of the process,” Nagy said. “We’ve decided to give each one of those kickers a full day. So they'll alternate. We don't care about weather. We don't care about what's scripted for that practice. Whatever happens that day, that kicker can mentally prepare and understand that today is his day.
“Today was Elliott’s day. Tomorrow will be Eddy's day, and that’s the way we’re going to do this. Some of the pros to doing that is you think about a free throw contest when you’re at a basketball camp and you’ve got to wait for seven other people to shoot and then you get one shot. It’s like playing golf at Augusta. If it’s crowded, you’ve got to wait before you hit off your next shot, so he got in a rhythm and he did great.”
Fans got their first chance to watch a training camp practice on the second day in Bourbonnais.