Rookie kicker Pat O’Donnell, the only punter drafted this year, by the Bears in the sixth round, has been making an impression ever since his first punt in rookie minicamp, which boomed into the Walter Payton Center roof 90 feet above the playing surface.
That hasn’t slackened, and on Wednesday the Bears used a “jugs” machine to deliver punts to returners during practice, since O’Donnell’s kicks were only infrequently getting to them without interference from the roof.
But coaches are more than pleased with the ball-launching of O’Donnell, selected in the sixth round of the 2014 draft.
“That’s something that’s good, by the way,” said special-teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis. “If it hits the roof in there, that means they are hanging the ball. If they don’t hit the roof that’s usually not a good thing because that means it’s coming right back at you in the return form. I’m glad that it’s hitting the roof, let’s just say that.”
If there is one surprise on “teams” it has been the showing of Tress Way, who came to camp last year as an undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma with virtually zero chance of unseating Adam Podlesh.
Podlesh punted his way out of Chicago this offseason and Way has seized the situation and is conceding nothing to O’Donnell because of the latter’s status as a draft choice.
“I think it's going to be a heck of a competition,” DeCamillis said. “I think when we drafted Pat, for whatever reason Tress really picked his business up. He's really punted well and it's going to be a heck of a competition…
“I've seen some guys fold and some guys rise to the occasion and obviously you want the guys that are going to rise to the occasion. You want a guy that knows how to compete and that's what we've seen so far so hopefully that continues.”