Eddy Pineiro, officially, was named the Bears Week 1 kicker by Matt Nagy Sunday, one day after the team trimmed its roster to 53 but amid a furious waiver-claim period for the entire league.”Just his body of work. We feel like he’s certainly earned it,” Nagy confirmed before his Bears hit the practice field on a short week for their normal Wednesday routine. “He made it through a lot of mental challenges, physical challenges, working through the highs and lows.”
Pineiro, 23, was acquired via trade in May from the Oakland Raiders and became the last man standing in the Bears’ much-ballyhooed battle to replace Cody Parkey on Aug. 18 following the cut of Elliott Fry. He converted 8-of-9 preseason field goals overall — including a streak of eight straight heading into Thursday vs. the Green Bay Packers.
But it wasn’t until Friday, one day before the deadline to trim rosters, when special-teams coordinator Chris Tabor delivered Pineiro the official message.
“They just told me, ‘Hey, this organization believes in you. You’ve been kicking well. You deserve it,’” said Pineiro, who celebrated the news over dinner at a downtown Cuban spot with his father.
The pressure certainly will return the first time Pineiro lines up for a regular-season NFL field-goal attempt — quite likely as soon as Thursday — but for now he called getting the news a burden lifted.
“Now it’s a big stress off the shoulders. Just gotta make kicks now, do what I’ve been doing this preseason,” said Pineiro.
Nagy, too, again reminded everyone Sunday that Pineiro won’t make every kick of his NFL career — that would be a record — and it’ll be a feeling-out process between the kicker and coaching staff as far as how much patience the organization is willing to show.
“Hopefully it’s the arrow-up deal where he hits a few early and he gets his confidence going and before you know it, he’s on a nice streak,” he said. “And so we feel that out as a staff. And if it starts out a little slow or there’s inconsistency, that’s where the challenge of being able to … the frustration of how much it hurts you comes into play. But when that person knows that and understands it, there’s no surprises.”
Also part of the process, Nagy indicated, will be when the inevitable misses do occur, depending on the frequency and leverage of the situations, it’s up to him to determine whether the Bears must alter their in-game approach — whether that means going for it on fourth downs or perhaps attempting more two-point conversions.
Nagy specifically cited Parkey’s Week 10 horror show last season, seemingly with a tinge of regret, when the now-ex-Bears kicker missed both of his field-goal tries and two of four extra points.
“That’s a juggling act, where, until he proves himself in real live bullets, we won’t know that,” Nagy said. “I’m just hoping that he’s that guy that comes out and has a great year.”
Pineiro, when reminded that the pressure will soon return, indicated it’ll be a different kind now that the Bears have put their complete faith in him.
“I think it’s a lot less now. I feel a lot better,” he said. “I feel a lot more confident. I’ve made eight of my last nine kicks in the preseason. I’m feeling confident going into the season.”
And the Bears, who aren’t technically on Oakland’s hook for that 2021 seventh-rounder unless Pineiro is still on the roster after the Week 6 bye, have until the first quarter of the season to monitor whether Pineiro’s growing confidence, consistency — and Pineiro himself — are here to stay.