Bears Kicking Battle, Problem Still Lingering Without Solution In Sight

June 12, 2019 - 10:27 am
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. (670 The Score) -- The living Hall of Famers from the Bears' storied past left the stage Friday evening at the team's centennial celebration, with the likes of Dick Butkus, Gale Sayers, Richard Dent and more being honored. Then came a twist.

The Bears began to introduce members of their 2019 team, starting with the specialists. Following many of the franchise's legends was the Bears' ongoing kicking competition, with kickers Chris Blewitt, Elliott Fry and Eddy Piniero taking the stage alongside punter Pat O'Donnell and long snapper Patrick Scales.

The packed ballroom inside the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center met the trio with apathy and even some laughter. It was a reminder that for all the pride from the Bears' past and hope for their future, this kicking problem is still lingering.

Once again, the woes reered their ugly head at Halas Hall on Tuesday afternoon as the Bears welcomed 25 alums to watch their mini-camp practice. They stopped practice and ran out the three kickers for a field-goal attempt from more than 40 yards. Piniero hit the right post, Blewitt was wide left and Fry was wide right. 

The "Augusta silence" that Bears special teams coordinator Chris Tabor has ordered for his kickers remained in the air after the third missed kick. You could hear a pin drop.

"Whatever went through your mind went through my mind," Bears coach Matt Nagy said of watching the three misses.

"I mean, that's about as real as it gets."

The Bears released Blewitt on Wednesday morning with two days of practice left in the offseason, clearly having seen enough of yet another kicker failing to prove himself worthy of the job. The team had eight individuals kicking during its rookie minicamp in May. Only Fry remains from that group.

Meanwhile, the Bears report to training camp in six weeks seemingly no closer to a solution for the kicker position. 

Tabor had quipped recently that the Bears' finish line for the kicking battle would be the regular-season opener against the Packers on Sept. 5. At this pace, it's worth wondering if that's enough time to get it right. The Bears could just cut their losses and sign 46-year-old veteran Matt Bryant to a one-year deal, ending this frustrating competition.

For now, the hope is Fry or Piniero -- or somebody else -- can rise to the occasion.

"If they all went 3-for-3 (Tuesday), we wouldn't be talking about it," Nagy said. "But at the same time, what's real is they didn't and that's why we are talking about kickers in this situation, because we miss. We have to just keep trusting our evaluation of these three kickers. It's not just one person, it's all of us together."

"We talk it through and we figure it out and we do everything we possibly can to make sure that in the end, when we get to the very end, we have the right guy there."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.