The week before the Bears hold their first padded practice, Eddy Pineiro seems to have won the kicker derby.
On Tuesday, the Bears waived Ramiz Ahmed, the former Nevada player they signed in April to push Pineiro.
The Bears weren’t shy about promoting competition for the kicker job a year ago. To replace Cody Parkey, they held a kicker derby during the 2019 rookie minicamp, then sent a conditional seventh-round pick to the Raiders for Pineiro. He beat out Elliott Fry during training camp and served as the team’s kicker for the season, making 23 of 28 field goals.
The Bears asked Pineiro to put on mass during the offseason. Last week, special-teams coordinator Chris Tabor said he had added weight and decreased his body fat. He said the ball was “jumping off his foot really well” during the early part of training camp.
“Last year was [Pineiro’s] first full NFL season,” Tabor said. “So I think that’s why him putting on the weight and being able to handle it as it gets colder and the ball isn’t flying as far, being able to use some of those attributes that he has, that is going to benefit him.
“We’re going to put pressure on him, and he puts pressure on himself. And that’s what I love about the kid. We have not arrived at that kicking spot. We are always a work in progress, and we still have things to prove, and we’re excited to get back out on the field.”
To fill the open roster spot, the Bears agreed to a deal with safety Marqui Christian, sources said.
He’s suspended for the first two games of 2020 but could fill a special-teams role similar to that of safety Jordan Lucas, who opted out last week.
Christian, who was close to a deal with the Jets in March, was the Cardinals’ fifth-round pick in 2016 before getting cut a month into the season.
In four years with the Rams, he started one game but ranked second on the team in special-teams snaps in 2018 and 2019, totaling 733 downs.