In an effort to do everything he can to bounce back from last Sunday’s four missed kicks, the Bears’ Cody Parkey spent Wednesday night practicing at Soldier Field.
After spending the day at Halas Hall with his teammates, the Bears’ kicker headed downtown for an evening workout with LS Patrick Scales and P Pat O’Donnell, his holder. The session was conducted after hours because each of the team’s next two home games will be played on Sundays in prime time.
The 6-3 Bears were originally scheduled to play the 5-3-1 Vikings at noon this week. But the showdown for first place in the NFC North was flexed to 7:20 p.m. On Wednesday afternoon, it was announced that the Bears’ next home game, against the 9-1 Rams Dec. 9, would also be flexed from noon to 7:20.
“Just check all my boxes, and do everything I possibly can to make kicks,” said Parkey, who missed FG attempts from 41 and 34 yards in the 34-22 victory over the Lions. “I do that every single week, and this is just adding a little extra something to that.”
Both of Parkey’s missed field goals, the only two he attempted against Detroit, caromed off the right upright. He also missed two of four extra-point attempts, drilling one off each upright. The five-year veteran had made 28 straight PATs before last week and 13 of 16 FG attempts.
As with almost every NFL kicker, Parkey has ridden the emotional rollercoaster. The Bears are his fourth team in five years.
As a rookie with the Eagles, Parkey was voted to the Pro Bowl and made 32 of 36 FG tries (88.9 percent) and set a franchise and NFL rookie record with 150 points in 2014. But a groin injury limited him to three games the following season, and he was waived in the Eagles’ final cutdown before the 2016 season but signed three weeks later by the Browns.
In Cleveland, he made 20 of 25 FG attempts but didn’t survive final cuts the following year in 2017. He was signed a day later by the Dolphins, and he hit 21 of 23 field goals (91.3 percent) in South Florida before opting for free agency and signing a four-year, $15-million deal with the Bears.
“I’ve had highs; I’ve had lows,” the 26-year-old Parkey said. “Unfortunately, it comes with the territory sometimes. I don’t get down on myself. I know I’m a great kicker. I’m just going to go out there Sunday and try my best.”
After his rough day, Parkey said he heard from the some of same people who have been in his corner through good days and bad.
“No surprises,” he said. “Kickers in the league, past kickers in the league, nobody that hasn’t reached out before when I’ve made kicks, or missed kicks. You find out who really cares about you, honestly. It’s easy to root for me when I’m doing well, but it’s harder when I’m not. So you find out who really cares about you.”
Parkey said that was easy to do immediately after the game.
“I go home to my wife and my dog, and they don’t really care if I make field goals or not,” he said. “So I find peace in that. I talk to my family, stuff like that. But I don’t beat myself up, I don’t go on social media, I don’t do any of that. I could care less about what anyone thinks of me other than people in this locker room.”
Bears coach Matt Nagy said the idea of Parkey practicing at Soldier Field was no different than the measures that coaches might take with any slumping player at any position.
“We’re going to always do whatever we need to do to make things as good as possible for any player on this team,” Nagy said. “If that’s catching extra passes after practice with the Jugs machine, or if that’s him going down to Soldier Field and practicing, we’ll do that.”
Like Parkey said: “It can’t hurt.”