Bears will monitor other teams' kicking competitions

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The Chicago Bears' meandering offseason route to solve their kicker problem won't be resolved merely by a training camp competition between Elliott Fry and Eddy Pineiro.

General manager Ryan Pace noted Sunday he's keeping an eye on kicking contests around the NFL.

"We're watching all the teams, all the competitive situations around the league -- one of them will be kicker," Pace said, via NBC Sports Chicago. "We're just watching that progress as we go forward. We know right now where we stand, where some of those battles are occurring. We're watching those. And I'm sure there will be ones that will pop up that might surprise us."

Openly admitting that he's keeping options open elsewhere underscores that the Bears are not exactly thrilled with either Fry or Pineiro going into the training camp.

This offseason has been one disappointment after another with their kicking competition.

After their season ended with Cody Parkey's double-doink miss and they parted ways with the veteran, the Bears had a massive tryout with eight different players. They eventually whittled that list down to three, each of whom screwed the pooch at one point or another. With the group under heavy spotlight each practice and kick, the struggles during offseason workouts were magnified -- to the point that it was notable when they ended practice with three makes. There was also open pining for Robbie Gould to return from the Chicago public before his recent contract with San Francisco got done. Then after minicamp got off to a rough start, the Bears cut Chris Blewitt, leaving Fry and Pineiro.

Pace characterized the competition as "even" heading into training camp, which kicks off Thursday for Bears veterans.

To highlight the unusual focus on the kickers in Chicago, the first 11 questions of Pace and coach Matt Nagy's pre-training-camp press conference on Sunday involved the kicker job.

Nagy even suggested he could adjust his play-calling this preseason to give his kickers more opportunities to prove themselves.

"We need to figure out this position, right? We need to understand it's a crucial spot first we've got to get right," Nagy said. "I think the more opportunities that you have for these guys to prove who they are and what they could do, we'll take 'em.

"So there may be some questionable play-calls in the preseason. I'll just leave it at that and we'll go from there."

If the Bears see a better option on another roster that could be cut loose, they'll make their move after preseason. Sometimes a good young kicker can reside on a squad with an already established veteran and will be looking for a home after preseason. This is how the New Orleans Saints landed Wil Lutz, who showed off in 2016 with the Baltimore Ravens, but was never going to take Justin Tucker's job. If a similar situation presents itself, Pace will be ready to pounce.

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