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Thursday, September 22, 2011
Experienced Omiyale to replace Carimi

By Jeff Dickerson

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- With rookie Gabe Carimi sidelined with a knee injury for the next several weeks, the Bears are counting on veteran Frank Omiyale to solidify the right side of the offensive line against Green Bay on Sunday.

 Frank Omiyale
Frank Omiyale has been a frequent starter for the Bears since 2009.

From an experience standpoint, the Bears should be fine. Omiyale started 28 regular season and two postseason games at a variety of positions. Originally signed by the Bears prior to the 2009 season as an offensive tackle, Omiyale bounced inside and played 12 games at left guard his first year in Chicago, before getting moved back to tackle last year. Omiyale opened up the 2010 campaign at right tackle, but was switched over to left tackle the final 14 weeks of the regular season.

"I'm probably more comfortable at left [tackle], but I'm hungry, so I'm going to eat," Omiyale said Thursday.

A week of practice with the first team is expected to help Omiyale against the Packers. Save for a few practices, Omiyale worked almost exclusively on the second team during training camp and the preseason. The Bears decision to draft Carimi and move second-year lineman J'Marcus Webb to left tackle sent Omiyale to the bench.

"It was frustrating [losing my job], but my goal is to get on-board and make sure I made the team so I'd be around for this situation," Omiyale said. "It's here, I want to make the most of it and we're going to try and get it done Sunday.'

"It definitely feels good to get the reps, to be able to talk to the guys next to you and to know what they are saying. It'll be good. It's going to pay off."

It remains to be seen what kind of chemistry the Bears offensive line will have Sunday minus at least one, possibly two starters. The Bears were unable to pin down a starting five on the line until the midway point of 2010. Bears offensive line coach Mike Tice desperately wanted to avoid a similar situation this year, but early injuries to Carimi and right guard Lance Louis have forced the Bears to alter their plans.

"I don't know what that timeline is [for us to click]," Omiyale said. "We feel good about each other when we are out there. We know we are going to fight for each other. That's the most important thing you can ask for."