Pineiro using Florida wind to prepare for second Bears season
If the NFL ends up playing the season with no fans in the seats, Bears kicker Eddy Pineiro should be ready.
Last year, he won a nine-man kicking competition in training camp, so he's used to making high-pressure kicks with no crowd noise.
"Yeah, that's how it was in practice, nobody talking, nobody screaming," Pineiro told reporters in a recent teleconference. "It was a little awkward, a little weird. If that does happen, I think I'll be ready for it because we did a lot of that last year."
The Bears did add a kicker during the offseason, rookie Ramiz Ahmed from Nevada, but Pineiro seems like a good bet to handle kicking duties for a second season.
He went 23 of 28 on field goals last fall. He nailed a 53-yard game-winner in Week 2 at Denver, but missed a potential game-winner from 41 yards against the Chargers in Week 7 at Soldier Field.
"I think my biggest struggle was going from a windy game, like going to Chicago and then playing in a dome in Detroit," Pineiro said. "Just kind of getting focused on the little things.
"That was probably the biggest learning experience going from a windy game, 30 mile per hour wind and then you're going to go play in a dome where there's no wind. The transition I think was the biggest thing for me. I think that's what I learned this year."
So now Pineiro is in Florida, where it can get windy at times and he's trying to take advantage. He said he picked out a local park that's open and exposed to the wind.
Punter Pat O'Donnell lives nearby, so they've been working together. O'Donnell, a Palm Beach native, finished his college career at Miami. Pineiro is from Miami and kicked at Florida.
"I'm lucky enough that we only live about an hour away from each other," Pineiro said. "Me and Pat just don't go in and be like, 'OK, we're going to kick some balls.' We kind of have a set game plan. Today we're going to do this; we're going to have a last-second field goal at the end of practice. Or we're going to manipulate the wind or hit the ball this way for it to go this way or stuff like that.
"We work on a lot of little details. We have a set game plan for that whole practice. If we're going to kick more kicks from the left hash, we're going to kick more kicks on the right hash. Just different scenarios we try to put ourselves in the most in-game real situation we possibly can."
Ahmed made the team at Nevada during a student tryout. He started off as a kickoff specialist, then made 15 of 20 field goals during his senior season in 2018.
"We always want competition," Bears coach Matt Nagy said of his kickers. "For a guy like Eddy, I love how he handled last year. It wasn't easy and we tried that on purpose with the kicking challenges and competitions that we have. But he pulled through that and to us that's the silver lining.
"At the same time, let's make sure that he understands and we understand, the more pressure situations, the more experiences that he gets, it will help us and help him down the road."
Quiet and windy might be where Pineiro ends up this season.