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Analysis

Four Downs: Which Kicker Will Prove Themselves In Bears vs. Giants?

After one of the most exciting Chicago Bears preseason games in a decade, it's time to shift our focus to week two of the preseason. The Bears will head to New York to take on the Giants on Friday night.

After one of the most exciting Chicago Bears preseason games in a decade, it’s time to shift our focus to week two of the preseason. The Bears will head to New York to take on the Giants on Friday night.

Bears fans were spoiled last Thursday as Roquan Smith, David Montgomery, and several other key players got too much playing time. As always, the No. 1 goal in the preseason is to stay healthy. Outside of an ankle injury to second-year WR Anthony Miller, the Bears are in good shape heading into week two.

Miller will be ready for week one according to head coach Matt Nagy, which is all that matters.

While the Bears have Super Bowl aspirations for the 2019 season, the Giants are in limbo. And by limbo, I mean they are going to lose a lot of football games. They drafted Daniel Jones, who looked sharp in the team’s first preseason game against the Jets.

Eli Manning, for whatever reason, is still the starter. Meaning the Giants, gulp, are still trying to win games? They do have one of the best young RBs in the league in Saquon Barkley…that’s pretty much it.

Before we get into my four downs for Friday’s game, I’ll leave you with some words of wisdom regarding the preseason.

People who say the preseason is useless are stupid. I know, I know kind of a hot start. 

Is the preseason completely useless? No, in fact, it can help identify talent. Take WR Javon Wims last year. He balled out in the preseason catching 15 passes for 227 yards and a TD. 

Similar to last year, the Bears will play mostly a vanilla version of their offense and defense. The starters will also see a very limited amount of action…if any. It worked for the team last year, so if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. 

Still, there will be things to keep an eye this preseason. 

Buckle up.

Disclaimer – It took me 45 minutes to make that gif and it still kind of sucks. Moving on. 

1st Down: Which Kicker Will Step Up? 

Would it be a Four Downs article without kicker talk?

The kicker situation right now for the Bears is shaky at best. Elliott Fry made the most of his opportunities against the Panthers, nailing a 43-yard field goal in the same endzone Cody Parkey botched his. The overall strength of his leg, however, continues to be a legitimate concern.

Eddy Piniero missed a 48-yarder and looked nervous at times kicking in Soldier Field. He also had a weird week with the media.

“Yeah, it’s a little exhausting,” Pineiro said. “Just every day you feel like, ‘Oh damn, if I miss this kick am I going to get cut? Are they going to trade for somebody else?’ It does get annoying, but I can’t control any of that. What I can control is showing what I can do on the field, and hopefully we get some more opportunities this next week.”

This is professional sports. Of course, there is going to be an enormous amount of pressure. As Waddle and Silvy said earlier this week, if you don’t want the pressure, go be a banker. More from Piniero:

“I feel like I’ve kicked well,” Pineiro said. “I feel like we’ve both kicked well. I think I have, I’ve just got to show it in the games now. I missed one. But you’re going to miss. As a kicker, you’re not going to make every single field goal. So it’s just how you bounce back.”

Showing it in games is exactly what needs to happen for the Bears to have a successful “in-house” kicking competition. The problem against the Panthers was the low volume of opportunities for field goals.

After the Minnesota Vikings traded for my guy, Kaare Vedvik, the Bears best option may be current Panthers’ kicker Joey Slye, who will unlikely replace Graham Gano in Carolina. Slye made kicking at Soldier Field look easy, which is difficult to do.

Kicker Stats heading into week two of the preseason:

Practice – 

Pineiro: Made 47-of-56 kicks in practice (83.9%)

Fry: Made 48 of 59 attempts (81.4%)

*In his career, Robbie Gould has made 87.7% of his kicks 

Game – 

Pineiro: 1/2 FGs made

Fry: 1/1 FGs made

I’ll leave this here.

Clearly, the Bears aren’t too comfortable with their kicking situation and are willing to do whatever it takes to improve it.

That was A LOT of kicker talk…moving on.

2nd Down: Ian Bunting rising? 

Undrafted TE Ian Bunting made some plays against the Panthers. The tight end position for the Bears is a thinner one, to say the least, especially with the unpredictability of Trey Burton and Adam Shaheen.

For Bunting to make the 53-man roster, the Bears would need to carry four TEs, which again, may not be a bad idea. Bunting is currently fifth on the Bears’ TE depth chart, but another strong performance against the Giants could shake things up a bit.

Against the Panthers’ backups, Bunting made several nice plays, including a 45-yard catch. Bunting finished the game with 3 catches that went for 77 yards. Not bad for an undrafted rookie making his NFL preseason debut.

Let’s see what he can do against the Giants.

3rd Down: Kerrith Whyte locking down RB4? 

If there was one thing that was blatantly obvious last Thursday night, it was that rookie Kerrith Whyte was WAY quicker and faster than last year’s preseason hero, Ryan Nall. Nall looked slow, which is kind of crazy because he looked like he had speed in 2018.

That’s how elusive and fast Whyte is.

After an early injury in camp, Whyte has made an impact. He had 6 carries for 35-yards. His biggest play of the night was a 23-yard run that showed off his NFL talent.

With another strong performance on Friday night against the Giants, Whyte can lock up that RB4 spot on the Bears’ roster. We know Matt Nagy prefers to keep four RBs. He did it last year – his first season as an NFL head coach.

I’ll say this: Kerrith Whyte > Taquan Mizzell.

4th Down: More Javon Wims and Riley Ridley

After the Bears held a surprise night scrimmage where both the first-team offense and defense got about 60 live reps each, we can safely say that no one of real importance will play against the Giants.

Still, let’s hope we see WRs Javon Wims and rookie Riley Ridley, who both seem to be “safe” in terms of final cuts. Wims played against the Panthers but failed to do much of anything. Ridley was still recovering from a hamstring injury.

Ridley, who played primarily on the outside in his time at Georgia, caught 43 passes for 559 yards and 9 TDs in his final year of college football. It’s amazing how deep the Bears are now at WR. Wims and Ridley are battling for that WR4 spot. Just think about where the position was two years ago at this time.

Actually, let’s not think about that dark time. Instead, let’s look forward to another football game being played on Friday night.

PS – If you know of anyone I need to put on this list let me know ASAP.

Deuces.

Nick is the editor-in-chief at TheLoopSports.com. He is also a Chicago Sports fanatic, avid sports bettor, fantasy sports nut, and totally didn’t try to sell his soul on eBay (which he’s still waiting for by the way). For more fun, follow him on Twitter @PetroTLS

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Nick is the editor-in-chief at TheLoopSports.com & owner of TheChalkTLS.com. He also is a fantasy sports junkie, DFS player, and prop play guru. He considers himself a football expert but dabbles in a bit of everything, including trying to sell his own "soul" on eBay. For more fun, follow him on Twitter @PetroTLS. 

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