“Honestly, it doesn’t change anything,” said Pineiro. “Still gotta make kicks. If I don’t make kicks I’m gonna be gone like everybody else.”
Throughout the summer, Fry and Pineiro have talked about their friendly relationship. The two have spent the past weeks alternating on kicks during practice and chatting on the sideline. Pineiro feels for his erstwhile teammate.
“It sucks,” said Pineiro. “At the end of the day, it’s a business. I know it was going to be one of us. It’s tough. He’s an NFL guy. Like I’ve said before, I think he’s going to play in the NFL for a while. This is not going to define him.”
While Pineiro is now the only kicker on the Bears roster, there is no guarantee that this will be the case when the Bears face the Packers on September 5. Both general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy have expressed an openness to a late addition at kicker. Presumably, there will options on waivers as other teams trim their rosters down to 53 players.
Pineiro has already factored in that possibility.
“The way I look at it,” said Pineiro. “I feel like I haven’t won the competition. Everything’s still open. Who knows if they bring somebody else in, but it does give me a confidence boost.”
Pineiro acknowledges that he’s come a long way since OTAs when he seemed to underwhelm the coaching staff. Thefirst-year kicker has focused on the little things, hoping to showcase the raw talent that led the Bears to trade a conditional seventh-round draft pick to the Raiders in May to acquire him. He credits his new mentors in Chicago with the improvement.
“My technique has gotten a lot better,” said Pineiro. “I was working with Jamie Kohl, the kicking consultant, and the special-teams coach. We were working on my technique, which is the big thing, just my walk-off and my steps. Because they know I have the leg strength, so just trying to get my technique down pat.”
As a converted soccer player, Pineiro has never struggled driving the ball. Nagy has cited Pineiro’s leg strength as one of the kicker’s separating qualities. Having declared for the draft after only two years at Florida, Pineiro is still adjusting to the nuances of the game. On Sunday, he cited his improvement in replicating a pre-snap process and approaching the ball with the correct amount of steps.
Beyond access to top-notch instruction, Pineiro has benefitted from a professional approach.
“It’s different just because this is a job,” said Pineiro. “At Florida, it was fun. This is more how I feed my family, how I try to pay their bills, help them out. So it’s a different feeling.”
Aside from missing a 48-yard field goal in the preseason opener, Pineiro has been pretty accurate in NFL stadiums during this competition. In addition to going 3-4 on field goals in the preseason, the kicker hit all 12 attempts during FamilyFest at Soldier Field.
Pineiro’s elevation to the sole kicker on the team was well-received by teammates. Defensive tackle Akiem Hicks told reporters that Pineiro was a good locker room presence who fits into the team’s culture.
“I’m not a kicking analyst,” said receiver Allen Robinson, “but I thought he’s been pretty good throughout the OTA time and throughout the camp time that coach has kind of put everybody to the sideline and brought them up in there individually to kick. I think that’s the most that I’ve got a chance to see. I thought he’s made some pretty impressive kicks.”