The Chicago Bears kicking competition ended its first leg back on May 5th with the conclusion of rookie minicamps. Suffice to say it did not end well for six of the eight kickers involved. Four didn’t receive contract offers and two others were granted their release from the team. Only Chris Blewitt and Elliot Fry survived to advance towards Organized Team Activities.
They’ll be joined by recent traded acquisition Eddy Pineiro from the Oakland Raiders.
So what exactly did happen during those three days? A lot as it turns out. A young specialist named Alex Kjellsten was part of the competition. The McNeese State alum, who recently signed with the New Orleans Saints, spoke to the New Orleans Advocate about what happened during those practices. What stood out right away was how seriously the Bears were taking it.
“They brought in something like 14 specialists, and the organization did a great job of constructing pressure situations for us, and it was very competitive,” he said. “Every kick was charted, and they had all this technology on the goalpost.
“Then, at the end of practice, they had all the kickers line up, and everyone was standing on the 50-yard-line. It was silent, like you could have heard a pin drop. Every kick held a lot of weight – even if you made the kick, if the ball wasn’t rotating the right way or if it knocked off the upright and then went in, it was no good to them.”
Chicago Bears kicking competition is anything but a sideshow
By the sound of things, the Bears have no intention of making light of this decision. Not surprising after they’ve been burnt by poor kicking for the past three years. Cody Parkey may have been the worst, but he was hardly the one it started with. Everything that’s happened this offseason shows a clear motivation by the team to solve this persistent issue.
It’s likely the team has gotten some welcome tips from new kicking consultant Jeremy Kohl. He runs a respected camp for the specialists that has helped produce some solid NFL kickers in recent years. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he was the one who added the technology flavor. The more detailed the approach, the easier it becomes to make a decision.
If this was how things started in minicamps, just how might the pressure ratchet up as training camp approaches? One thing is for sure. The Bears don’t seem to intend on showing much mercy in the process.