Bears focused on creating challenging competition to resolve kicker issue

SHARE Bears focused on creating challenging competition to resolve kicker issue

Bears kicker Cody Parkey reacts after missing a field-goal attempt in the final moments of his team’s 16-15 playoff loss to the Eagles on Jan. 6. | Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

PHOENIX — Bears coach Matt Nagy wants everyone to know that they’re pronouncing the last name of Bears kicker Chris Blewitt incorrectly.

“It’s French,” Nagy said Tuesday during the coaches breakfast at the NFL annual meeting at the Arizona Biltmore. “It’s Blue-Ay.”

Fair enough. But the Bears still are looking for a kicker who doesn’t blow his chances when he gets them. At this point, the Bears’ competition only features Blewitt and Redford Jones.

Neither has kicked in a regular-season game in the NFL, but both players emerged during separate open tryouts at Halas Hall, which did include veterans with NFL experience.

“The key word is ‘competition’ at that spot,” general manager Ryan Pace said. “And doing creative things to make them feel that pressure and that competition.”

For now, the Bears’ preference is for that competition to feature young kickers, especially with portions of Cody Parkey’s contract still on their books for the next two seasons.

That could change in time. But the Bears are operating with the approach that kicker tend to emerge from anywhere and at any time. It’s what happened with the Ravens’ Justin Tucker, Saints’ Will Lutz and Chiefs’ Harrison Butker.

“Everybody else says, ‘Oh, no one knows who these guys are,’ and they never kicked in a game,” Nagy said. “But hell, I never coached in a game until last year. Last year was my first time ever being a head coach. Somebody needs an opportunity.”

For Blewitt, who played for Pittsburgh in college, it came about after Bears special-teams coordinator Chris Tabor heard how well he was performing “in these kicking circuits and kicking schools,” Pace said.

“He was kind of their top guy,” Pace said. “So we brought him in along with five or six other guys and right away he just clearly separated himself. Just the power and the pop in his leg is what jumped out in the workout.”

Nagy indicated that it’s a competition that could continue throughout the entire preseason, though the Bears will be mindful of how many kickers they have on their 90-man roster at any given time.

“Without having 70,000 screaming fans at Soldier Field and kicking it in Soldier Field, we’re going to put pressure on them, and we’re going to make it so they kind of tighten up a little bit, as much as you can,” Nagy said. “You sit here and you watch these kickers at the combine. You can hear a pin drop, and they’re out there kicking with no pads on, no nothing. I want the real thing. How can you make that happen? You got to kind of draw it up. When you have 90 players out there with an incentive of you got to do this or they got to do that if you make it or miss it, there’s a little bit of a challenge.”

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