Eddy Pineiro Could Be Challenged As Bears' Kicker

The Bears brought in former Nevada kicker Ramiz Ahmed to compete.

Chris Emma
June 30, 2020 - 11:18 am

(670 The Score) When the Bears held their exhaustive search for a kicker last offseason, they left no stone unturned. 

The Bears looked across the entire country to find their replacement for Cody Parkey, who was released in March 2019, and that process led them to a developing kicker from Nevada named Ramiz Ahmed. Bears special teams coordinator Chris Tabor scouted Ahmed and made a note: He’s a guy I should track.

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Days before the coronavirus pandemic halted team travel in March, Tabor went to the Greg Zauner free-agent camp for specialists and watched Ahmed kick again. He came away impressed by the progress.

The Bears then signed Ahmed to a one-year deal in April.

"He was really striking the ball really well," Tabor said recently by video conference. "It’s out in Arizona, so you have to kind of take that stuff into consideration, but just the ball flight, and you could tell he cleaned some things up technically from the last spring. 

"I actually saw some growth, and just thought this is a guy who deserves an opportunity. We’re always going to have a couple of guys in camp, so I don’t think that’s anything off the charts on that deal. But he struck the ball well, and we’re going to give him a shot."

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After spending so much of last offseason holding a public kicking competition, will the Bears truly challenge Eddy Pineiro as the team's kicker?

"Obviously, Eddy, he did a lot of good things last year, and there are things that we wish he would've done better," Tabor said. "That's any player. But there's always going to be competition."

Pineiro made 23 of his 28 field-goal attempts and 27 of 29 extra-point attempts in his first full NFL season in 2019. He made a game-winning 53-yard field goal as time expired in Denver on Sept. 15 but was also inconsistent at times. Pineiro missed a potential game-winning 41-yard field goal in a loss to the Chargers at Soldier Field on Oct. 27.

The Bears appeared to lose confidence in Pineiro after that miss against the Chargers, as he went nearly a month without making a field goal after that game while coach Matt Nagy passed up a few opportunities for him. Pineiro then responded well down the stretch, making his final 11 field-goal attempts of the season.

Pineiro has spent part of this offseason training with Bears punter Pat O'Donnell in a Miami park -- one he felt simulates Soldier Field's swirling winds. Pineiro wasn't surprised when the Bears signed Ahmed to a deal.

"I obviously expected it," Pineiro said. "Everybody has to compete. That's part of the NFL."

Ahmed made the Nevada football team on a tryout in 2017 and became the lead field goal kicker a year later. He hit 15 of 20 field-goal attempts and 40 of 44 extra-point attempts in 2018. Ahmed was 15-of-16 on field-goal attempts under 40 yards, which is why Tabor was encouraged to see the improved ball flight.

When the Bears begin training camp in late July, Pineiro may be truly pushed for his job.

"You got to perform," Tabor said. "At the end of the day, he has to perform. He understands that. I think he'll be fine."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.