LAKE FOREST — Better gas up the helicopters again. Chicago Bears kicker Cody Parkey and his band of merry special-teams friends are heading back to Soldier Field on Thursday for another kicking session.
But Parkey — who had a nightmare game Sunday against the Lions — might be more fueled by his coach's support than anything else.
“I know what’s under the hood with this kid," Bears special-teams coordinator Chris Tabor said Thursday. "That’s why I’m excited for him. I believe in him. I know what type of day that was."
As Bears fans well know by now, Parkey not only missed two field-goal attempts and two extra-point tries, but all four misses hit the uprights. Tabor, who has coached football for more than 20 seasons at various levels, said he's never seen that happen before in a game.
“It’s hard," he said. "Honestly, I don’t know what the Vegas odds would be on that.”
For the second straight day, Parkey and the short-snapping crew (LS Patrick Scales and the holder, P Pat O’Donnell) will make the field trip to an empty Soldier Field to practice the kicking operation on the field where the Bears host the Vikings Sunday night. And this time they receive an added elemental challenge: snow, which started dusting the area as the Bears were starting practice indoors on Thursday.
During Wednesday's session at the stadium, news helicopters flew overhead — also a first for Tabor, apparently, who said he "checked that one off the box” — to gather footage for the local broadcasts.
It was a sign the Bears are very much in the news, sure, but also a pretty strange one. The least the news folks could have done was offer the group faster passage from Halas Hall to downtown, rather than having to fight notoriously bad Chicago traffic.
“No comment,” Tabor joked.
But Tabor said he felt like it was a worthy exercise, making the haul to Soldier Field, which is why they're repeating that effort. And while the group was there, he said, they actually got to enjoy the unique setting while also working through Parkey's mechanics.
“I thought it was," Tabor said. "I think it is something that you can continue to do. It was good. You do down there and you kick and you’re working on the elements. You’re in that venue, but at the same time, it was almost when we walked out, it kind of felt like you were 10 years old. You’re just gonna go out and play football. It was a good experience.”
Sunday night will be fascinating to see. The teams appear to be somewhat evenly matched in what's a crucial battle for NFC North supremacy. It almost feels like this game is almost destined to be decided by a field goal.
The Vikings have had their share of issues in this department as well, having to cut rookie fifth-round PK Daniel Carlson after he missed three tries in a Week 2 tie with the Packers. His replacement, Dan Bailey, also has missed three FG attempts this season, making 12-of-15 in seven games with Minnesota.
Parkey is now 13-of-18 on field goals (and 30-of-32 on XPs) following the Week 10 win over the Lions. In Tabor's mind, Parkey entered the game looking good and the Bears won the game, which are both positives. Parkey's miss in overtime against the Dolphins hurt the team badly, but this last game did not, so the goal is to work out the kinks now prior to the home stretch of the season.
"At the end of the day, we did win the game," Tabor said. "That’s a positive. But you also understand that as we move forward in this journey, it’s going to come down to field-goal kicks and that’s his job and he’s really good at it and I have confidence in him. I believe in him.
"This wasn’t anything that I saw during the week. In pregame I thought, ‘Boy, is he hitting it good.’ In fact when I watched his ball and I watched ]Lions PK Matt] Prater’s [pregame kicks], I was like, ‘My guy’s dialed in. I feel good about it.’ So it was one of those things. We’ll never get it back. That’s how we look at it. Let’s move forward and get on a run.”