- Jeff Dickerson, ESPN Staff Writer
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CLEVELAND -- Ryan Quigley can punt in the NFL. That much is clear.
The issue now is whether the undrafted rookie free agent did enough in the last two preseason games to convince the Bears he should be allowed to punt for the team in the regular season until Adam Podlesh returns from a left hip flexor injury.
"You talk about taking advantage of your opportunities; last week on a national stage in New York he stepped up and did a great job," Bears head coach Lovie Smith said. "He's been doing it in practice and he did it again tonight."
Quigley's better of the two games was probably against the Giants, but he still placed three of his four punts inside the 20-yard line and had a long kick of 45 yards in the preseason finale.
"I can't thank the Bears enough for this opportunity and for sticking with me," Quigley said. "I think I hit the ball a little better last week but just overall, I think I did okay. I know I can play in this league. I proved to myself and hopefully to other coaches I can play in this league. Coming in as a tryout guy, if you told me I'd have this opportunity during OTAs I would have been ecstatic."
The Bears could go in a couple different directions. They have done their homework on several free-agent punters with actual regular-season experience. That said, there is something to be said about sticking with a player who has been with your program throughout the entire offseason and preseason, such as Quigley.
Because of that comfort level, the Bears might keep Quigley on the 53-man roster or they could save a little money by waiving him Friday with the hope of re-signing him to the practice squad over the weekend. That way Quigley would still be on the team and the Bears could activate him off the practice squad closer to the actual regular-season opener against the Indianapolis Colts on Sep. 9. Regardless, Quigley will get another opportunity to punt in the NFL, whether in Chicago or someplace else.
Ryan Quigley is looking like an NFL punter.