Eddy Pineiro Learning What Ice the Kicker Really Means

Gene Chamberlain

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — It's the time of year for the Bears when kicking and field position matter the most. It's special teams weather.

Kicker Eddy Pineiro has had to make a huge adjustment to kicking in the cold after a warm-weather college career, and finally he'll get the chance to prove he can do it Sunday when the Bears travel to play at the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field.

It's all been part of the education of a place-kicker as the Bears decided to actually invest time in training a young kicker rather than import one and hope for the best.

"Obviously, hitting a game winner in Week 2, and then you're up here, you're down there," Pineiro said. "It's all a learning experience. I'm just getting more and more experienced."

Pineiro has made four straight field goals since he went 0-for-2 from make-able distance against the Rams, and is 16 of 21 on the year. In a poor year for kicking, he's not the worst kicker in the league, but nowhere near the top.

"It's a good feeling," Pineiro said. "The coach is still on my side even though it's obvious I've missed five kicks."

Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor doesn't look at his kicker and think of him as sitting on a hot wire, ready to be sent flying at a moment's notice. The Bears decided to let Pineiro keep kicking after consecutive misses.

"As we talked about at the beginning of the year and I think to a man I think some people maybe were surprised at how well he was doing, and then he hit a little bit of a lull there, and that became the story again and he shot right out of that.

"He's kicking the ball well. He has great confidence. This will be another challenge for him ... kicking in the cold weather, how's he going to do? I think he's going to do great, I really do. I have no worries about him."

Pineiro kicked outdoors in the cold on Wednesday and it really was his first time in more bitter December conditions. He'll also kick on Friday.

"Just, (you) hit the same ball, it's just going to be colder," Pineiro said. "It's probably not going to go as far, which I figured that out yesterday.

"It wasn't going as far as it usually does, but it's all just a part of the processs."

At least as big a concern to Tabor has been the constant rotation of players on coverage and return units due to numerous injuries to starters. The starters usually don't play any or as much on special teams, so when an injury occurs they've got to be replaced on special teams by less experienced players.

Tabor singled out Ryan Nall, Josh Woods and J.P. Holtz as Bears who have helped special teams remain effective, and made it possible for the 40-yard line as their starting field position against Dallas, a huge asset. They were at their own 34 or better nine times and seven times at their own 40 or better.

"We just kind of keep moving right along," Tabor said. "That's our world and we don't even think about it. It's next man up and we gotta play. There is a standard that is set and you need to meet that standard and exceed that.

"So that's what we talk about and we will just kind of keep going."