Bear Essentials: Wootton Ready to Contribute

Bear Report looks at defensive end Corey Wootton's potential increase in production, Robbie Gould's take on the Hall of Fame Game, how the lockout is affecting Gabe Carimi and more.

In his rookie season last year, defensive end Corey Wootton delivered the final blow to Brett Favre's career. In Week 15, he sacked the future Hall of Famer, knocking him out of the game. It will almost surely go down as Favre's last-ever NFL play.

Beyond that though, Wootton had a fairly forgettable first season. He was only active for six games, playing just 84 total downs. In 2011, he believes he can raise his game to the next level.

"A lot better," he told the Chicago Tribune this past weekend. "Because you are a lot more experienced and you've been out there and you understand what it takes. That's the biggest thing."

Since he's been unable to work with the Bears' coaches this offseason, Wootton has undergone strength training at Poliquin Performance Center in Northfield and speed, quickness and position drills at TC Boost in Northbrook. He feels these sessions have helped better prepare his body for increased playing time.

"I'm a lot leaner now and I have more strength on me," Wootton said. "I went up in all my lifts significantly. I'm feeling really strong, really explosive. I really feel like I am at a point where I am past where I was in college. With coach (Rod) Marinelli, it's all about speed and quickness."

With Henry Melton making the switch from defensive end to under tackle this year, Wootton is now the first backup for both Israel Idonije and Julius Peppers. As such, he should see a significant spike in game reps. For his part, Wootton is ready for the challenge.

DE Corey Wootton
Rob Grabowski/US Presswire

"It changes every year for every player, they expect a little bit more from you," he said. "I am just trying to show them what I can do and help this team out a little bit more. I'm hoping I can show the coaches what I can do and they'll like what I have done this offseason and the improvements I have made."

Carimi staying sharp during lockout

The Bears' first-round pick this year, Tackle Gabe Carimi, missed his opportunity to pick up an offensive playbook by just a few hours when the league temporarily lifted the player lockout in late April. Because of that, he's been forced to watch game tape on his own in an effort to become more comfortable with coordinator Mike Martz's playbook.

"I have all the clips of every Bear pass and run that they did last year and I've watched that. So I have an idea of what they run. I don't know the names yet, but I definitely feel comfortable with what they are running," he recently said on the ‘Boers & Bernstein' show on The Score 670 AM.

He believes the similarities between the offense he learned at Wisconsin and the one Chicago runs will help make his transition easier. As far as which tackle position he'll play, Carimi is ready for either.

"I feel like I can play either position extremely well," he said. "Obviously I feel more comfortable at left tackle. I've played there for a longer part of my career, but wherever they really need me is how it goes. That's what's going to happen."

Carimi is looking forward to finally getting out on the practice field and squaring off against Julius Peppers.

"I'm looking forward to the first day in pads," he said. "I want to be able to put a measuring stick out there and say ‘Okay, this is where I'm at and there is where I want to be'."

Gould says HOF Game unlikely

Robbie Gould serves as the Bears' union representative. He's been abreast of the current labor negotiations since Day 1. He believe that, while both sides have been working hard, it's very likely the Bears will miss at least one upcoming preseason game.

"I think it would be very unfortunate if we would lose preseason games, but unfortunately I think that might happen, but also think it would be unfortunate if we lose regular season games," Gould told "We want to play football. We're hoping that that happens and I don't know if we are going to be able to open up on July 22nd, but I hope we will be able to do so."

If a deal doesn't happen this week, it's very likely the Bears and St. Louis Rams will not be able to participate in the Hall of Fame Game, scheduled for Aug. 7.

"Well it has to happen immediately," Gould said. "I mean there is a lot of work that would have to get done between having a settlement in place obviously before a season can even start. You have to sign free agents. You have to sign all of your rookies, undrafted free agents, draft picks. You can't go to training camp without forming a team, so there would have to be some sort of what I would consider a little bit of leeway in time to get everybody in place and each team in place ready to play and have a productive football season."

Martz ready to play

In contrast to Gould's previous comments, coordinator Mike Martz believes that, if the Chicago Bears are called on to play with little or no notice, the team would still be ready to go.

"If we report to camp and they say, `Tomorrow, you're playing the game,' that'll be plenty," Martz told the Associated Press.

Wide receiver Devin Hester has said he believes the team would need about a week and a half of practice to be ready for a preseason game.

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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport com. To read him every day, visit BearReport com and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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