Chicago Bears rookie offensive tackle Gabe Carimi, who has been out since Week 2 after suffering a dislocated kneecap, underwent a knee scope yesterday. After participating in a few practices before the Eagles game, he suffered soreness from which he never recovered, prompting the scope.
"Gabe had a scope today on his knee," coach Lovie Smith said yesterday. "We don't know how long exactly Gabe will be out."
The results of the scope have not been made public but the surgery itself could force Carimi to miss another month. If the scope shows significant damage, the former Wisconsin Badger may miss the remainder of the season.
"[There are] no plans to put Gabe on IR," said Smith. "I can't talk on that right now. We'll know more when we get more information. He won't play this week and might be out for a while."
Offensive line coach Mike Tice said Carimi had been outperforming his linemates through the first six quarters of the season before his injury. While he's been out, the team has shuffled the front five and eventually landed on a group that has played very well in their three starts together.
Lance Louis has replaced Carimi at right tackle. Last week, he worked over Philadelphia defensive end Trent Cole for most of the contest. The line did not allow a sack in that game, only the second time in QB Jay Cutler's tenure with the team that he's gone without being sacked.
While it would be nice to have Carimi, this year's first round draft pick, on the field, Tice isn't worried about going forward with the current group.
"In Tampa they were physical. Last week, they were physical. Again, that has a lot to do with playing together for a couple of weeks, knowing who's helping who, and that's part of those five guys playing together as a unit," Tice said. "As much as any unit on the team, they have to have continuity, because it's five guys. They play every play. There's only two positions probably on the field that play every play: the quarterback and the offensive line."
Bears WR Devin Hester has been listed as questionable on the official injury report with an ankle injury he suffered late in Monday night's contest.
"It's never good if a player doesn't practice but if Devin is ready to go Sunday there's still a chance we'll let him go," Smith said. "We're still hopeful for Devin."
Hester has returned all but one punt for the Bears so far this season, while splitting time with Johnny Knox returning kickoffs. Expect Knox to take over full-time kickoff duties if Hester can't go, with Earl Bennett returning punts.
"There's only one Devin Hester. Nobody has anybody like him, but we do have guys who can step in if necessary," said Smith. "Without Devin we'll just have another very good returner to replace him. There are other guys on our roster who score touchdowns, so we should be OK."
Knox is averaging 21.7 yards per kickoff this year with a long of 32 yards. His career average is 26.8 yards per return, including a 102-yard touchdown. Bennett, who missed five games this season, has yet to return a punt but has a 10.6 average for his career, including a 49-yard touchdown.
Meriweather will play Sunday
Major Wright didn't miss a single tackle in 2010. Yet this season, his tackling has been awful. In every game he's played, he's missed at least one tackle, and a few of those misses have resulted in big plays for opposing offenses. Safety Brandon Meriweather hasn't been all that much better, allowing a number of deep passes. Wright started last week but Meriweather rotated in at strong safety. Expect that rotation to continue this week against the Lions.
"The plan going in [to last week's game] was to rotate [Meriweather] in," Smith said. "You look at last year, we played three safeties most of the time. You like to do that. We plan on playing Brandon this week also."
Meriweather was named to two Pro Bowls during his time with the New England Patriots, yet was cut this offseason by the team. The Bears were hoping his veteran presence on the back end would help solidify the secondary. That hasn't been the case so far but Chicago's coaches still believe he'll come around.
One problem for Meriweather has come from leading with his head when tackling, something for which he was fined $25,000 a few weeks back.
"He has to find new ways of tackling or he'll get fined," said Smith. "He's working on that and hopefully it won't be a problem in the future."
DE Julius Peppers missed some practice time this week with a sore knee but he's listed as probable on the injury report and is expected to play on Sunday. The same goes for DT Matt Toeaina, who is also nursing a knee injury.
The Lions will be without RB Jahvid Best this week due to a concussion, which is music to Chicago's ears. Best ripped off an 88-yard TD run against the Bears in Week 5, which all but sealed the game for Detroit. The Lions will use veterans Maurice Morris and recently signed Kevin Smith in the backfield to replace Best.
The Lions will also be without punter Ryan Donahue due to a quad injury. The team signed Robert Malone to replace Donahue on Sunday.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.