The Bears on Sunday waived PK Elliott Fry, leaving Eddy Pineiro — for now — as the last man standing in the battle to replace Cody Parkey.
“The way I look at it is it’s a great opportunity for [Pineiro],” coach Matt Nagy told reporters, after wishing Fry well. “... 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.”
But Nagy stopped short of declaring Pineiro as the Bears' Week 1 kicker.
"Well, for me, the way I work, is I want that," Nagy said. "I want them to have the mentality that Eddy is going to be that guy. But we're getting to that point right now where you're getting toward the end of the training camps where there's going to be transactions for a lot of different teams at a lot of different positions. So if we feel like something is best for the Bears, that's what we'll do."
Fry — whom the Bears signed in April following his perfect but brief stint in the now-defunct AAF — had been the only remaining kicker from Chicago's much-ballyhooed eight-man PK tryout in rookie minicamp and seemed to be fairly even in the competition with Pineiro throughout the preseason. Fry even appeared to perhaps take a brief lead when his first-ever NFL conversion doubled as the ironic and surreal 43-yarder steeped in historyin the preseason opener two weeks ago to end a half in which Pineiro — the first kicker off the bench, mind you — missed from 48.
But after both kickers were a bit wobbly in practice heading into Sunday, when Pineiro hit from 41 and 27, sandwiched around a 47-yard miss by Fry, the Bears decided, "for right now we feel good where we're at."
Nagy indicated the decision to waive Fry only halfway through the preseason will create more opportunities for Pineiro, whom the Bears acquired from the Oakland Raiders in May in exchange for a conditional 2021 seventh-rounder. It marked GM Ryan Pace's first trade attempt to stabilize the roster's shakiest position since releasing franchise scoring leader Robbie Gould three years ago.
"In that aspect, it’s good," Pineiro said. "I can get more kicks now and get more comfortable in game-like situations and get more reps, more kickoffs, more field goals, more extra points — I feel like that’s gonna help me a lot."
But Pace's failed pursuit last week of a trade with the Baltimore Ravens for now-Minnesota Vikings PK Kaare Vedvik, if not Nagy's noncommittal remarks Sunday, make it clear the Bears are still exploring every avenue to find the right man to replace Parkey, who was cut after his infamous playoff "double-doink," despite the Bears still owing him more than $5 million on the four-year, $19 million deal he signed last spring.
"The way I look at it, I feel like I haven’t won the competition," Pineiro said. "Everything’s still open. Who knows if they bring somebody else in. But it does give me a confidence boost, like, OK, I have a shot to be the guy and prove to the coaches that I can be the guy that they want me to be. So yeah, I feel a lot more confident. ... Just mentally, I just gotta make all my kicks. With the whole kicking struggle from last year, they got us on thin ice here."
As for right guard Kyle Long, Matt Nagy cited a "gut feeling" regarding his decision to discipline Long for his reckless behavior in Wednesday's practice fight by leaving the former three-time Pro Bowler at home when the Bears visited the Giants on Friday in the second preseason game a "gut feeling."
"In the end, I think that dealing with the person specifically like I did and like we did is how you do it," he said. "You explain going forward the process. It’s not going to happen again, but how we do things. I think all of them are a little bit different. You can’t treat every one the same, every incident the same. It’s kind of a feeling."
Nagy also said it was important that the Bears' longest-tenured homegrown player, who will resume practicing with the team Tuesday, apologized after the scary incident in which he punched and swung a helmet at rookie DE Jalen Dalton — but only because it was sincere.
"Well, I think it is. I think it's always important. But you only want that to happen if it's authentic and organic. If it's scripted and you have an apology that's scripted, it doesn't mean anything. That's not what he's about. Like I said, we'll keep that thing internally, but big picture-wise, Kyle has done such a great job really since last year when we got here but in particular this past year this OTAs and training camp, man he's been awesome. And so you hate to see one day ruin all that.
"But he understands it too. The one thing, the way we work around here is we're very honest, we're very open, and we don't worry about hurting feelings. We're real. And so those conversations that we have that are private can get to a point where they need to start understanding what our stance is and I know Kyle is extremely remorseful and now he's got to prove it."