This Sunday, outside linebacker Khalil Mack won't be the only Bears player going up against the team that traded him to Chicago.
Kicker Eddy Piñeiro came to Chicago last spring when the Bears sent a conditional seventh-round pick in 2021 to Oakland in exchange for the kicker, who spent the entire 2018 season on injured reserve.
Unlike Mack, traded in the wake of a contract impasse, the Raiders were able to frame Piñeiro's trade in the best possible light.
"I remember having a really good practice," said Piñeiro. "I didn't miss that practice, and I was doing really good, and then the GM called me and said, 'Hey, we have a good opportunity for you to be the Bears' kicker.' Yeah, they just put me on a plane like two hours later, and I left."
"Good opportunity" looks like an apt phrase in retrospect. Piñeiro has previously said that he expected an extended stay in Oakland, but he was facing a crowded situation going into 2019. The Raiders used three kickers last season, before Daniel Carlson won the job, hitting 16 of 17 field-goals in the final 10 games.
Piñeiro ended up winning the Bears' job during the preseason. By keeping the kicker on the active roster through the Oakland game, the Bears must surrender their 2021 seventh-round pick to Oakland. Given Piñeiro's early returns (8-for-9 on field-goal attempts, 6-for-6 on extra points), the trade seems to have been mutually beneficial, and Piñeiro doesn't hold any grudges.
"To me, it's not a big deal," said Piñeiro. "Just gotta make my kicks like every other game and that's what I'm focused on."
Piñeiro has been dealing with a right knee-injury for the past two weeks, but he has continued to kick in games. The kicker has proven to be accurate in spite of the pain, hitting all of his field goal and extra-point attempts against the Vikings on Sunday.
"I think my knee is getting a lot better," said Piñeiro. "The training staff here is doing a great job. I'm trying to recover as fast as I can and the bye week's going to be a big week for me to get completely healthy."
Showing off for family: Even though defensive end Roy Robertson-Harris has lived elsewhere for most of his life, he still has deep roots in Oakland, where he was born and where much of his family still lives. Robertson-Harris grew up a Raiders fan and will have the chance to show up his childhood team this week, though not in his childhood city.
"I was hoping to play in Oakland, in front of my family," said Robertson-Harris, "but, at the end of the day, it's London. First time in London. It's cool, but it's a business trip."
Robertson-Harris went to high school outside of Dallas and played at UTEP, but his connection to the Bay Area remains.
"I consider myself a Texas boy now, just being in Texas for so long, but my heart is still in Oakland," he said.
"For me," Robinson said, "it's just about the same thing: being where I need to be when I need to be there, just winning when my number is called, keeping it the same."
With Mitchell Trubisky nursing a shoulder injury, Robinson is prepared to work with Daniel again on Sunday. He doesn't believe it would be too much of an adjustment.
"I mean, I think we've played with him a decent amount now," said Robinson. "We played two games with him last year. You know, we played a good game with him last week. So I mean he's a guy we're familiar with, that we've gotten rep before, so it's not like it's an unfamiliar face."
Robinson has also had success in London in the past. In three games there with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the receiver caught 16 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns.
A Culture Thing: On any other week, Nick Kwiatkoski'a short-notice performance against the Vikings would be the story of the week. With so many of his teammates stepping up, the fourth-year linebacker's nine-tackle game, with a sack and forced fumble, seems more like a piece in a larger mosaic of the Bears' depth.
"I've been here a couple years now, and it's something that started way back when," said Kwiatkoski. "Kind of a culture thing. Just kind of being around the guys, coming in and preparing each week, just the kind of game day prep. Things like that. There's definitely a culture that's been built over the last couple years."
It remains unclear how much Kwiatkoski will play in London, but if he does, he's looking forward to facing Josh Jacobs and the Raiders' rushing attack. At 6-2 and 243 pounds, Kwiatkoski is a bit of a throwback to the days when the ability to stack up against Eric Dickerson or Earl Campbell was the main job requirement for an inside linebacker.
"I like playing downhill type football, as well as the other linebackers in the room," said Kwiatkoski. "But you never know what you're going to get from an offense. That could be what they're doing leading up until the game and switch it up, so you have to be prepared for everything."