Cairo in­sur­ance: Santos added as a pre­cau­tion

Nagy says he can step in if Pineiro is un­avail­able

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - JA­SON LIESER jlieser@sun­ | @Ja­sonLieser

The Bears are bring­ing in another kicker, but coach Matt Nagy painted it as more of a pre­cau­tion than a con­cern about Eddy Pineiro’s per­for­mance. Pineiro still ap­pears to be his guy head­ing into the sea­son. New ad­di­tion Cairo Santos is an in­sur­ance pol­icy.

Nagy, speak­ing hours af­ter his team en­dured a scare from what it said were nine false-pos­i­tive tests for the coro­n­avirus Sun­day, wants to pre­vent a sce­nario in which he’d have to scramble to find a kicker shortly lead­ing up to a game.

“It goes back to that con­tin­gency plan that we have,” he said. “We need to have another kicker on this ros­ter. Know­ing kind of where the COVID test­ing is right now, we all feel it’s very im­por­tant that you have some­body that can come in if some­thing was to hap­pen to Eddy.”

That pre-emp­tive con­cern was height­ened not only by Sun­day’s bizarre events but also by Pineiro’s groin in­jury. He has not kicked in prac­tice since the Bears started a week ago.

Santos hasn’t been on an NFL ros­ter this year, so he must go through ex­ten­sive test­ing be­fore he’s cleared to sign. With a day off Mon­day, it’s likely he’ll make his prac­tice de­but Tues­day.

It’s not re­ally a Bears de­but for Santos, of course, be­cause he kicked in two games for them in 2017. He also had the best stretch of his ca­reer when he kicked for the Chiefs from 2014 through 2017 while Nagy was on staff.

Santos hit a ca­reer-high 88.6% of his field goals in 2016 but hasn’t been a full-time kicker since. He played for five teams the last three years and was cut by the Ti­tans last sea­son af­ter go­ing 0-for-4 in a 14-7 loss.

Pineiro, mean­while, sur­vived a po­si­tion bat­tle last Au­gust and made 81.2% of his field goals (tied for 17th). It was a wild ride that fea­tured a 53-yard game-win­ner in Den­ver and a mid­sea­son slump, in­clud­ing a 41yard miss at the end of a home loss to the Charg­ers.

It wasn’t fully clear, but Nagy seemed to in­di­cate he wanted two kick­ers on the 53man ros­ter for the sea­son rather than adding Santos merely for the next two weeks of camp.

That is ex­tremely un­usual in the NFL, but this is an ex­tremely un­usual sea­son. Speak­ing of which, the in­ter­est­ing part of bring­ing in Santos in case Pineiro tests pos­i­tive is that they would the­o­ret­i­cally be to­gether all the time in meet­ings and prac­tice. The Bears might need to keep Santos iso­lated.

The Bears could also stash Santos on the newly ex­panded prac­tice squad. They can keep up to 16 play­ers there this sea­son and are able to pro­tect four per week from be­ing signed by other teams.

When the Bears had con­cerns about Pineiro’s knee in­jury last Septem­ber, they opted against adding an ex­tra kicker dur­ing the week. Teams oc­ca­sion­ally sign a kicker off the street a day or two be­fore the game if they’re wor­ried. In­stead, they pro­ceeded with Pineiro and took some stress off his knee by hav­ing punter Pat O’Don­nell han­dle kick­offs.

Nagy oddly dodged a question about Pineiro the day be­fore and said Sun­day it was be­cause he hadn’t had a chance to talk with him “in re­gard to his sit­u­a­tion” first. He added that they had “a good con­ver­sa­tion” and that he be­lieved Pineiro would’ve been able to kick Sun­day if the Bears had worked on field-goal drills.

That said, Pineiro’s ab­sence likely re­in­forced the need for a Plan B. And Santos cer­tainly will get a chance to com­pete, but the Bears’ think­ing at this point seems to be that he’s a safe­guard rather than a chal­lenger.

“I’m ex­cited to get him in here, and now we feel more con­fi­dent in that sit­u­a­tion,” Nagy said.


Eddy Pineiro, who has a groin in­jury, has not kicked in prac­tice since the Bears started a week ago.

Cairo Santos

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