BOURBONNAIS – Everyone loves a punting competition, and many of the estimated 9,500 who came out to Sunday’s Bears practice had a lot of fun with punters Pat O’Donnell and Tress Way.
O’Donnell, the sixth-rounder out of Miami, boomed his first punt, sending the returner back 10 to 15 yards to field it. The fans started chanting “Megapunt” and would have their cheers crescendo in the approach to his kicks, like the rattling of keys at a college game.
“Usually they’re jeered, not cheered,” said special teams coach Joe DeCamillis, who said he never has seen that kind of fan reaction to punting.
“That’s obviously a first. I was thinking, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me over there,’ ” he said. “It was ridiculous. Let’s keep the kid’s feet on the ground so far.”
To the naked eye, Way was in second place on the day, but he had a couple strong punts as well. Considered the underdog in the competition, Way was all smiles about the fans on a unique day.
“It was really cool, it was almost game-like,” he said. “You throw one up there and you get that spiral going, you hang it and you send it out, it’s so crazy how cool it is, the fans screaming and yelling.
“Especially if you get one that kind of hangs up a little higher, it’s the “ooooh!” I love it. … I love the bigger crowd, I love the noise, I love the audience. It’s so fun to have that atmosphere. Gosh, that was a blast today.”
O’Donnell also enjoyed the fan atmosphere and has been appreciative of working and competing with Way.
“I think regardless of your position, it’s great to have a person push you,” he said. “Competition makes you better, so I’m really grateful for that.”
The first day in pads for the Bears also meant the first live punts, and the fans enjoyed the show. O’Donnell might have received more of the love, but Way is confident and even has the fans in mind about the eventual naming of the Bears’ punter.
“We both can go at it a little bit, so we’re just going to have fun,” he said. “So, hopefully, we make the fans feel good either way about wherever coach goes with it. Hopefully, they’re happy with the decision.”
Quick hits: The Bears waived undrafted rookie guard James Dunbar. … In the one-on-one pass-rush drills in the trenches, in addition to Nate Collins, guard Michael Ola stood out. … Kyle Fuller knocked down a pass thrown to Eric Weems on a slant route, nut was humbled a bit in one-on-one drills against Alshon Jeffery. … Tim Jennings returned to practice, but did not finish as he deals with quad soreness. “He really wanted to get out there and work and he got the go-ahead and he went down the field on that first go route and was competitive as you could possibly be, but just didn't feel right so we left him out,” Trestman said. … Receiver Terrence Toliver missed practice with a toe injury.