The Gould Standard

The Bears are looking to create competition at several positions. Even though placekicker Robbie Gould had a solid rookie campaign, it won't stop the Bears from going out and trying to add talent to battle with him in training camp.

Considering that veteran Doug Brien began the year by converting just 1-of-4 field goal attempts before he was cut, the Bears did a good job of salvaging that aspect of their special teams, or rather Gould did.

The undrafted rookie from Penn State beat out five veterans during a tryout and then converted 21 of 27 attempts over the final 13 games of the season. Gould isn't entrenched, but he has a leg up on any competition the Bears bring in during the off-season, even if an experienced veteran comes available.

"We felt good about Robbie's performance, particularly when you consider he was an undrafted free agent," Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said. "He showed leg strength and exceptional poise for a rookie. Our stadium was rated the toughest to kick in from 2003-2005 in the league.

"So it's not a given that experience is necessarily the answer. We will look to create competition at the position, but to say it's going to be a veteran player, at this point I can't."

Some big names could hit the free agent market, such as Adam Vinatieri and Mike Vanderjagt. With more pressing needs, the Bears won't spend a lot of money on a veteran kicker.

Although there were 11 kickers at the NFL combine, the majority of the prospects who worked out are considered punters at the next level.

Josh Huston from Ohio State and Jon Scifres of Missouri State were the only two placekickers at the combine. The lack of talent at the position in Indianapolis led a member of the Bears coaching staff to go on a mini-rant about the way the combine invitations were distributed.

The team will use pro days over the next two months to further evaluate the crop of kickers looking to make the jump from college to the NFL.

While it would come as a major surprise if the Bears used a draft pick on a kicker, signing an undrafted player at the position is an option. The team will look to create competition for Gould, who finished second among NFL rookies in scoring with 82 points.

The question on Gould is his accuracy on longer attempts. He converted 18-of-19 attempts inside 40 yards, yet only hit on 3-of-8 tries from beyond the range.

Ultimately the Bears want to keep the pressure on Gould to force him to work hard in the off-season to improve his game. He's got the inside track over any young kicker the team may bring in after the draft, but with a limited track record he will still need to perform in order to win the job. contributed to this report.

Bear Report Top Stories