Chicago Bears rookie offensive tackle Gabe Carimi has a subluxation -- which is a partial dislocation -- of the right kneecap, which is less severe than what was originally believed, according to a source familiar with the situation.
Carimi still could miss time, but a source Monday thought the injury was a dislocated knee, which would have been more serious.
Bears coach Lovie Smith termed Carimi's injury "a knee sprain" on Monday, which is technically correct. The team is intentionally vague on injuries, considering the competitive disadvantage full disclosure could pose. The Bears purposely gave no timeline for Carimi's recovery because of the fluid nature for recovery from such an injury.
The team's unofficial depth chart, which was released Monday, still lists Carimi as the starter at right tackle.
A source, meanwhile, said Carimi didn't significantly damage any ligaments, adding the rookie sustained the same injury two years ago in the Champs Sports Bowl while at Wisconsin, and he isn't expected to be out for the season.
Scott Kaar, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine, and assistant professor at Saint Louis University, said Carimi's injury is common, adding that recovery time for subluxation is generally four to six weeks.
"Usually you can start rehabbing it pretty close to right away," Kaar said. "There's a couple of caveats. Sometimes when a patella subluxes or dislocates, a piece of cartilage can get knocked off and you can get like a floater in the knee. That's pretty rare. But when that happens then someone usually needs surgery to take it out."
The latter doesn't appear to be the case with Carimi, who suffered the injury with 32 seconds remaining in the second quarter of Sunday's loss.
"When it happens, you can usually start rehabbing it right away. After a short period of rest, they can start putting weight on it and start bending it pretty much right away," Kaar said. "Hopefully, someone who is pretty high an athlete like he is, I would think ballpark a month to two months (of recovery). In four to six weeks or so he might be ready to try hitting and stuff."
Kaar said that surgeons see injuries similar to Carimi's pretty regularly, adding that the rookie's history would make him more prone to recurring episodes of that injury.
The club's top pick in the 2011 draft, Carimi walked to the locker room with an athletic trainer just minutes after the injury, with veteran Frank Omiyale taking over at right tackle.
Carimi becomes the second starter along the offensive line to suffer an injury that could require him to miss time. Starting right guard Lance Louis sprained his right ankle in the first half of the team's win in the opener over the Atlanta Falcons.
"If it was a subluxation, what that means is the kneecap would have dislocated but not all the way, and a dislocation means all the way," Kaar said. "So probably for a couple of weeks they may really take it easy on him. He may be doing rehab, but not as aggressive. But then they'll get aggressive. They should probably get him moving pretty quickly, and four weeks sounds reasonable for it being a subluxation."
Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.