Two days after Eddy Pineiro made his most emphatic statement yet in pursuit of the Bears’ kicker job, coach Matt Nagy was asked if he was curious to see how he handled success.
“These guys can probably use a little bit,” Nagy said after practice Monday. “There’s been such a microscope on them, and that’s OK.”
Pineiro made field goals of 58 and 21 yards, plus three extra points, in his first game since the team cut Elliott Fry. Nagy said his success was a “hidden story” of the day — behind, of course, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck’s retirement.
Nagy will keep the pressure on, though he said he will feel out exactly how to do it this week. Pineiro hasn’t won the kicker job yet — the Bears could look to the trade market before cuts are made on Saturday or to the waiver wire on Sunday — but he’s a whole lot closer than he was a week ago.
“How are you gonna handle it when you do well?” Nagy said. “But how cool was it to see the team react the way they reacted to him making that, to seeing Eddy react the way he reacted?
“He knew it was a big kick. Now he gets more opportunities this week, hopefully.”
Pineiro could have tried another long kick, too — the Bears went for it on fourth-and-17 from the 39 rather than try a 58-yard kick. Before the game, special-teams coordinator Chris Tabor gave Nagy a distance he was comfortable with from each hash mark, and this one was too long.
“I really thought about wanting to kick it,” Nagy said.
“But we as coaches, we need to stay disciplined.”
The Bears split up practice into two separate areas, Nagy said, as the team takes a dual track this week. The starters have begun preparing for the Sept. 5 opener against the Packers; the backups are focusing on the preseason finale Thursday against the Titans.
Nagy, who started the season on a Thursday night two years ago with the Chiefs and opened against the Packers last year, said he needs to walk a fine line when preparing for Week 1.
“You look ahead too far, too soon, it becomes quote-unquote one of those Super Bowl weeks that you hear about, where you’re prepping so much or you’re putting so much stuff in that it ends up getting the best of you,” Nagy said. “So there’s that balance. And then again, too, you have this group of kids — this is a very important game for them.”
Lynch back, Clemmings out
Outside linebacker Aaron Lynch returned to practice on a limited basis after missing the last two weeks with a shoulder problem.
Backup offensive tackle T.J. Clemmings will miss the rest of the season after injuring his quadriceps Saturday, Nagy said. That opens up a chance for Alex Bars, a rookie guard from Notre Dame, to start at tackle Thursday.
“We want to see him keep growing, see what he can do,” Nagy said. “I liked what I saw, so we’ll get him going there a bit more.”
Rashaad Coward, Clemmings’ main competition at swing tackle, will miss at least another week after hurting his left elbow in the second preseason game.