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Eddy Pineiro’s 60-yarder highlights Bears’ practice at Soldier Field

As Pineiro shines, all eyes are on Matt Nagy’s handling of the ongoing kicker competition.

Matt Nagy is keeping a closer eye on kickers than any coach in the NFL.
AP Photos

As Bears coach Matt Nagy put it, there’s pressure on every kick in Chicago after the way last season ended. Eddy Pineiro handled it just fine in the team’s first appearance at Soldier Field since getting knocked out of the playoffs when Cody Parkey double-doinked a field goal against the Eagles.

Pineiro made all 12 of his kicks, including several long-range attempts, and made his most decisive statement yet in the competition with Elliott Fry.

The Bears ramped up the drama by having them take turns from a specific spot, and they both hit from 53 yards into the south end zone. When they pushed it back to 60, Fry went wide right, but Pineiro drilled it. Pineiro won another round near the end of practice when he made a 48-yarder after Fry missed.

“I was craving a good day like today and just getting over that hump,” Pineiro said of finally pulling off a perfect performance. “I always miss one or something always goes wrong. But today went well.”

Very well, and the crowd of 18,797 showed its appreciation with the biggest roar of the night when he hit the 60-yarder.

The Bears had been alternating kicking days for Pineiro and Fry. This was the first time they pitted them head-to-head, and Pineiro enjoyed it.

“It doesn’t matter if I go first or he goes first — we’ve just gotta make kicks,” he said. “That’s what Chicago wants.”

Fry, meanwhile, was undeterred.

“You’re never focused on the other guy,” he said. “You’re focused on your kick. You might watch [Pineiro’s kick] or whatever, but if you’re at this level, you’re pretty good at just focusing on your kick and trying to make it.”

It’s been a fairly even battle between the kickers so far, though it might ultimately be meaningless if the Bears see someone they like on the waiver wire at the end of the month, but there is a long way to go. The preseason schedule begins Thursday with a home game against the Panthers.

It also remains to be seen whether Pineiro or Fry will be able to handle one of the NFL’s toughest kicking stadiums when it gets deep in the season. The temperature Saturday night was in the upper 70s and the wind was relatively still, a lot better than it’ll be in November.

While Pineiro might have taken the lead Saturday, it’s tenuous. Nagy has been impressed with both of them since training camp began and will continue the competition.

“Maybe I’m crazy, [but] I think they’re doing decent,” he said. “It’s not the game, but they’re doing pretty good.”

Notes: Tight end Trey Burton did not practice, missing a second consecutive day. He is working back from sports-hernia surgery. Nagy said the team is being cautious with him, especially after he looked “sluggish” in practice early in the week.

• Wide receivers Emanuel Hall and Riley Ridley, as well as running back Kerrith Whyte, remained out with injuries.

• The Bears waived defensive back Josh Simmons with an injury designation and signed wide receiver Joe Walker, a former Delaware quarterback like Nagy.