Sources: Bears bench Gabe Carimi
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears informed second-year right tackle Gabe Carimi on Wednesday that he won't be in the starting lineup Sunday when the team faces the Minnesota Vikings, according to multiple sources.
The move came on a day of sweeping changes at Halas Hall for an offensive line that gave up six sacks Monday night in a 32-7 loss at San Francisco. The Bears demoted left guard Chilo Rachal, who subsequently left the team on Wednesday, in favor of veteran Chris Spencer.
Spencer started the first two games of the season before giving way to Rachal.
Sixth-year veteran Jonathan Scott, who has started 28 games for the Detroit Lions (2006-07), Buffalo Bills (2009) and Pittsburgh Steelers (2010-11) will start in place of Carimi on Sunday against the Vikings.
Bears coach Lovie Smith declined to discuss the move on Thursday, but Carimi called the demotion "obviously upsetting," adding "they just told me that the new guy's coming in, (and) just keep on working hard like I always do."
Scott said he hadn't been informed yet he'd start Sunday.
"The one thing I've learned in this league: You always have to prepare," Scott said. "I'm definitely going to put myself in a position to be ready (to start)."
"Jonathan has played good football in his career," Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice said. "He has been mostly a career backup. He has started. He started against Denver last year in the playoffs, and we've been playing him a little bit at tight end, trying to get him in there and get his legs underneath him, and see what he can do. He's done a solid job for us."
The same can't be said for Carimi, who has given up seven sacks, nine quarterback hits and 28 pressures in 10 games this season. A first-round pick in 2011, Carimi played "winning football," according to Tice, as a rookie for two games before suffering subluxation in his right kneecap during a loss at New Orleans.
"I've got a positive attitude about it," Carimi said. "I'll come back from this. I'm just inconsistent right now. So be it the knee or be it aggression, who knows what it is sometimes? I know I'll come back from this. I'll be good."
Carimi's knee injury in 2011 effectively ended his rookie season, and he underwent two procedures to stabilize the knee. Tice acknowledged the knee and technical lapses contributed to Carimi's struggles this season. The offensive coordinator said "all of the above" on Wednesday when asked whether Carimi's issues were a result of the tackle's knee or just technique.
"Gabe had some struggles this last game last week," Tice said. "Gabe works hard and is a very good professional for a young player. But at the end of the day, we all have to have better results starting with me because I'm the coordinator. I have to have better results. The players have to have better results. It's a business. That's the way it is. That's what it's about. We have to make decisions and go, whether that's what we're calling, who we're calling it to, who's blocking, who's catching. We've got to go."
The Bears informed both Carimi and Rachal on Wednesday of their demotions, and neither took the moves well, according to sources. When told he'd be benched in favor of Spencer, Rachal left the team for "personal reasons" and was placed on the reserve/left squad list with the club elevating practice squad rookie James Brown to the active roster.
Carimi said "none of us saw" what transpired with Rachal, "he just kind of left."
Smith, meanwhile, grew testy on Thursday when asked about the prospect of Rachal returning.
"I guess there's some hope," Smith said. "Just right now, he's not practicing with the team and that's about all I can say on it. He's on the reserve list right now and he's not practicing. That's about it. Team wise, you have to look at it as an injury. Guys go down, and it's always about the next guy stepping up. That's where we are."
Will the club welcome back Rachal with open arms?
"I'm not gonna get into any more than just that," Smith said. "He's not with the team right now."
Carimi and Rachal aren't the only Bears' offensive linemen struggling this season. Third-year veteran J'Marcus Webb gave up three sacks Monday night against the 49ers. On the season, he's allowed seven sacks, three quarterback hits and 22 pressures, according to Pro Football Focus.
Tice said on Wednesday that through the course of an entire 16-game season, he doesn't expect a quarterback ever to be sacked on a play calling for a short three-step drop. Backup quarterback Jason Campbell suffered three sacks on such plays against the 49ers.
"When you're calling three-step drops, the last thing on your plate and your fear or anxiety is a sack," Tice said.
Such protection issues have limited what the Bears can call offensively. Asked about potential changes on the offensive line on Wednesday, Smith declined to reveal the team's plans.
"I don't speculate on things like that. I just know that we're all disappointed in our effort," Smith said. "(The) offensive line was a part of that. We're still evaluating things and getting the best game plan possible for Minnesota."
With Brown on the active roster, the Bears signed guard Chris Riley to their practice squad on Thursday. Riley, a native of Wadsworth, Ill., entered the NFL in 2011 as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Illinois State. He spent last preseason with the Cincinnati Bengals before eventually landing on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squad for the majority of the 2011 campaign.