Cairo Santos growing confident, but uncertainty still looms for Bears' kicker position

Eddy Pineiro is still part of the Bears' plans, special teams coordinator Chris Tabor says.
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By 670 The Score

(670 The Score) As it stands, Cairo Santos is the Bears' kicker moving forward. But Chicago knows well it's a position that's never quite stable.

The 28-year-old Santos is one of three kickers on the Bears. He was brought in to be the team's primary kicker after incumbent starter Eddy Pineiro suffered a groin injury in August. Through five games, Santos is 7-of-9 on field-goal attempts and is a perfect 10-of-10 on extra-point attempts. He hit a 38-yard field goal with 1:13 remaining to lift the Bears to a 20-19 win against the Buccaneers last week.

Behind the closed doors of practices, Bears special teams coordinator Chris Tabor sees Santos improving amid the harsh Midwestern kicking conditions that come in the fall and winter. Santos responded well to the challenges of gusting winds at practice Wednesday, Tabor said.

"He's growing with the Chicago weather," Tabor said. "I think his confidence is high. I like where he's at."

The Bears could have a decision to make with their kicker position once Pineiro returns to full health. Pineiro "is still part of our plans," Tabor said, but his recovery from the groin injury -- one that's particularly challenging for kickers -- is nearing two months.

After winning a competition to be the Bears' kicker in 2019, Pineiro had a season filled with highs and lows. He hit a game-winning 53-yard field goal in Denver early on but slumped later in the season, a rut that included missing a go-ahead field goal late in a loss to the Chargers.

Pineiro was 23-of-28 on field-goal attempts and 27-of-29 on extra-point attempts in 2019. Once he's deemed healthy, the Bears will face a choice of whether Santos should continue as the team's kicker or make way for Pineiro to return.

The Bears added a third kicker when they signed veteran Kai Forbath to the practice squad last week. The 33-year-old Forbath, an eight-year NFL veteran, was added for "security" in case of a COVID-19 situation involving Chicago's special teams, Tabor said.

"At that position, if someone would wake up in the morning with COVID, we’ve been in a lot of tight games and you don’t have a guy that can go out and make a field goal -- that’s concerning," Tabor said. "Kai is a guy that’s obviously been in this league a long time. He’s really a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency, is what he is."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.