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Rivera iced Elliott Fry to 'help' Bears' kicking search

The NFL preseason is a time for evaluation. While much of the action will ultimately be forgotten by the viewing audience, every play counts for those on the fringe of making a roster.

If kicker Elliott Fry ultimately earns the Bears' starting job, he'll likely remember Ron Rivera.

The Panthers iced the rookie by calling a timeout just before the end of the first half of Thursday's preseason opener for both teams. And Rivera said he challenged Fry as a favor.

"You know what is funny, I did that to help the Bears because they are in a kicking contest," Rivera told reporters following the Panthers' 23-13 win.

Maybe Rivera still has a soft spot in his heart for the only NFL team he played for and started his coaching career with. If so, Bears coach Matt Nagy wasn't in on the strategy.

"No, it wasn't planned, but I'm kind of glad he did it," Nagy said.

So is Fry, perhaps. The former AAF kicker converted the 43-yard boot, a distance that carries special meaning in the Bears locker room. This past January, on the same field from the same distance and in the same direction, Cody Parkey's "double doink" was the deciding factor in Chicago's wildcard loss to the Eagles.

In a quest to identify a new starter, Nagy has reportedly had kickers try 43-yard field goals over the past few months. Fry's make thus resonated more than your typical preseason boot.

"You could feel it," Nagy said. "You could sense it, from all the fans, and I looked over and I said -- after the completion down the middle, and then they spotted it, and I'm so used to seeing -- like my math is really good right now. I can figure out real quick how far a field goal kick is from the spot of the ball, so I realized it was 43. Am I right? Yeah, then Coach Rivera pops a timeout, too."

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