Thursday, May 16, 2013
GM: Carimi will be welcomed back to Bears
By Michael C. Wright
Gabe Carimi has opted to stay in Arizona and train rather than take part on Bears OTAs.
Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery took the diplomatic route Wednesday when asked about Gabe Carimi's absence from the team's organized team activities.
Carimi missed OTA sessions on Monday and Tuesday, the first two workouts of 10 league-mandated OTAs, and was the only player on the team eligible to attend who did not.
"This is a voluntary situation, and every player has to make his own decisions," Emery told Sirius XM NFL Radio. "Gabe has made a decision. He wants to stay in Arizona and train. We respect that, and we'll welcome (him) with open arms when he comes back."
Of course, Emery couldn't have said anything hinting at potential consequences for Carimi's absence given that by league rule, OTAs are voluntary, and any remarks indicating as much would draw scrutiny from the NFL and the NFLPA.
Safety Tom Zbikowski missed Tuesday's session because of a prior commitment with the Chicago Fire Department, but he returned to Halas Hall before the conclusion of the workout. Receiver Brandon Marshall (hip), kicker Robbie Gould (calf), tight end Gabe Miller and receiver Marcus Rucker attended Tuesday's practice, but did not participate.
The only mandatory portion of the Bears' offseason program is the veteran minicamp in the middle of June, but the team typically boasts nearly 100 percent participation in the organized team activities.
According to sources, Carimi told the team at the end of its voluntary veteran minicamp in April that he would continue offseason training in Arizona. Starting with the second game of his NFL career, Carimi -- a first-round pick in 2011 -- has dealt with knee issues. It's believed Carimi hadn't sufficiently recovered from the right knee subluxation suffered his rookie season (which resulted in multiple surgeries) in 2012, and that contributed to subpar play.
The Bears demoted Carimi from the starting right tackle spot 11 games into last season, and he finished the year alternating between right guard and right tackle.
Carimi hasn't worked with the team since the April minicamp.
A source close to Carimi said the he's working out in Arizona because he believes it gives him the best opportunity to regain full strength in the knee that so far has slowed his career.
Entering his third NFL season, Carimi could struggle to earn a roster spot after the Bears drafted guard Kyle Long in the first round (No. 20) and signed veteran guard Matt Slauson in free agency. Second-year guard James Brown has spent some time this offseason working with the starters inside, and veteran guard/center Edwin Williams is also an option.
Although Carimi came into the NFL as a tackle, new coach Marc Trestman said last month that he considered the third-year veteran to be a guard.