LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears offensive tackle Gabe Carimi is expected to return the field sometime before the team wraps up its offseason workout program in the middle of June, according to offensive coordinator Mike Tice.
"He's right on track," Tice said Friday following the first day of rookie minicamp. "We expect to see him at some point before the session is over. Sooner than later. So we're pretty excited about that."
Carimi, the No. 29 overall selection in the 2011 NFL draft, opened the regular season as the Bears' starting right tackle before suffering a partial dislocation in his right knee during a Week 2 loss in New Orleans. The offensive lineman eventually underwent an arthroscopic debridement procedure on his right knee in early November before eventually landing on injured reserve on November 19. Carimi then had an additional surgery in late December to repair connective tissue around his patella and medial collateral ligament.
Despite Carimi's injury plagued rookie campaign, coupled with the documented struggles of left tackle J'Marcus Webb, the Bears resisted the temptation to use a draft pick on a tackle or to sign a veteran one in free agency. The current options at tackle besides Carimi and Webb includes 2008 first round choice Chris Williams who was moved to guard the past two years under Tice, Lance Louis and Levi Horn.
"If we felt that tackle was a dire need for us, I'm sure we would of answered the bell on draft day," Tice said. "I'm sure with the change in scheme, the change in personality if you will, an offseason, and getting some guys healthy will make a big jump in the offensive line. I think it takes time for young guys to play good in all areas, and I think we have a couple of young guys who have played good football in half the scheme. They need to pick it up in the other half of the scheme. We have a number of guys like that. We also have some guys who got hurt we need to get back."
The Bears organized team activities (OTAs) are scheduled the begin in less than two weeks while the offseason program ends in mid-June (12-14) with a mandatory three-day veteran minicamp.