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With Bears kicker Eddy Pineiro injured, Cairo Santos makes his case with perfect day

Nagy says Santos is simply a Plan B, but it’s looking increasingly likely the Bears will consider using him in their season opener.

Eddy Pineiro looked like a lock to kick for the Bears in Week 1 until he was forced out by an injury and the team brought in Cairo Santos.
AP Photos

The Bears are running out of time to comfortably assume kicker Eddy Pineiro will be ready for their season opener.

Pineiro hasn’t been seen attempting a field goal over the first two weeks of practices, nearly all of which were open to the media, because of a groin injury. He was in full uniform for the scrimmage at Soldier Field on Saturday, but did not kick.

Instead, recently signed journeyman Cairo Santos, filled in flawlessly and made all of his dozen or so field goals and extra points. At minimum, his success could encourage the Bears to take it slowly with Pineiro.

“I thought where [Pineiro] is at, he’s trying to improve each and every day,” coach Matt Nagy said. “But with that said, Cairo came out and... did a pretty good job.”

Nagy’s plan at this point is for Pineiro to recover as much as possible and evaluate Santos in the meantime, then, “we’ve got to make a decision based off of that.”

Pineiro had an unquestioned hold on the job until his injury lingered so long that it became disruptive to practice. The first time the Bears were seen doing field goal drills was Santos’ first day.

Nagy portrayed Santos as a backup from the moment his name surfaced, but has said the team intends to keep him on the active roster or practice squad as a precaution in case Pineiro tests positive for coronavirus and is not allowed to play. The longer Santos has the position to himself, though, the more opportunity he has to turn it into a competition.

Santos began his career with three good seasons in Kansas City, where Nagy was on staff, but has been highly suspect since. From 2017 through ’19, he kicked for five teams — including a stint with the Bears — and made just 68.8 percent of his field goals. The Titans cut him last season after going 0 for 4 in a game.

In addition to Pineiro, the Bears continued to practice without wide receiver Allen Robinson, defensive tackle Akiem Hicks and safety Tashaun Gipson.