By Adam Hoge-
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. (CBS) — After eight years of kicking at a high level for the Bears, Robbie Gould may be in danger of losing his job.
At the very least, no one with the Bears has denied that the veteran is facing some competition.
The speculation started when the Bears signed backup kicker Austin Signor in the offseason. With Gould coming off significant offseason leg surgery and missing offseason workouts, the signing of Signor made sense because they needed someone to kick the football in practice. But now, Gould is 100 percent healthy and Signor is still getting equal reps in training camp.
So is there a legitimate kicker competition going on?
“I mean, there is competition throughout your football team,” special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis said when asked that same question.
That’s not exactly the answer you give if your ninth-year kicker making nearly $3 million is safe.
“That guy is a piece of work by the way,” DeCamillis said next, albeit with a grin on his face.
One can only wonder if Gould’s comments last week about a lack of a contract extension has the Bears thinking about moving in a different direction. Signor has a bigger leg than Gould, and thus far hasn’t had much of a problem putting the ball through the uprights. It was Gould talking last week about how the Bears need to save some money, which was odd considering he knows his backup is only making the league minimum of $405,000.
Kicker seems like a pretty good area to save some money, right?
For now, Gould still has the upper-hand on the job he’s held for the last eight years, but until someone with the Bears says otherwise, it doesn’t appear that his job is completely safe.
It’s easy to forget that punter Adam Podlesh struggled at times last season and there appears to be a competition brewing there as well.
The Bears brought in undrafted free agent Tress Way from Oklahoma in the offseason and he has been showing off a booming leg. So, does Way have a chance to bump Podlesh out of the way?
“It’s too hard to tell right now,” DeCamillis said. “What are we? Three days, four days, it seems like 20 days, but I think it is hard to say right now. He competed well during OTA’s. We’ll see what happens. Let it play itself out.”
No Sign Of Competition For Hester
Meanwhile, somewhat surprisingly, there has been almost zero sign of competition for Devin Hester in his return role. The veteran was removed from his receiving duties in the offseason, leading to speculation that he would be cut, but the Bears appear to be comfortable leaving him on the roster solely as a special teams performer.
“His attitude has been great,” DeCamillis said. “He’s been great from the start. We talked early on. His attitude has been great. We’ll see. Again, it’s only three or four days of camp. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but really like where his mental point is at.”
After three clean practices, injuries took their toll on the Bears Monday. Defensive end Turk McBride suffered a ruptured Achilles and will miss the entire season. Meanwhile, left tackle Jermon Bushrod (calf) and defensive end Cheta Ozougwu (hamstring) missed time with minor tweaks.
Jonathan Scott, who has been backing up J’Marcus Webb at right tackle, took over the No. 1 left tackle duties. Kyle Moore and sixth-round pick Cornelius Washington saw more reps with McBride out. The Bears will likely sign another defensive lineman to take McBride’s place.
Not only will Marc Trestman call the plays during games, he will also be the one communicating directly to Jay Cutler through the quarterback’s headset. Given how vocal he is during practices about getting the plays off fast, you can bet there will be more than just play calls going through Cutler’s helmet.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.