It's official, rookie offensive tackle Gabe Carimi has been placed on injured reserve, ending his 2011 season. Carimi played just six quarters this year before dislocating his kneecap in Week 2 against the New Orleans Saints. He practiced a few weeks ago but the knee did not respond well. He then underwent arthroscopic surgery last Friday to clear out his knee. The Bears were hopful he could return to the team before the end of the season but obviously felt it was better to let the youngster heal in preparation for 2012.
Carimi was drafted in the first round this year (29th overall) out of Wisconsin. In his senior season at Madison, he won the Outland Trophy, given annually to the best offensive lineman in the nation. Yet he nearly dropped out of the first round, compelling some to wonder aloud why he wasn't drafted earlier. Apparently, many teams were worried about his knee, as they knew he had had a lot of maintenance on that part of his body during his collegiate career. Obviously, those concerns were justified.
T Gabe Carimi
This move doesn't necessarily hurt the team this year. Lance Louis has filled in admirably at right tackle, with Chris Spencer performing well at right guard as well. Yet in the long term, this will definitely stunt Carimi's development. Rookies need practice and game repetitions if they are to improve. By the time he enters camp next season, Carimi will have gone 10 months without any time on the field.
Carimi is the second starting offensive linemen to have been placed on IR this week. LG Chris Williams was lost for the season on Monday due to a wrist injury. Edwin Williams will replace him on the interior. Edwin started a few games last season but wasn't ready for the full-time gig. Yet coaches this year have touted him as one of the most-improved blockers on the team, especially in pass protection.
"Ed's gonna do a great job for us," offensive line coach Mike Tice said. "Ed had a great preseason. A lot of people in this building felt like he had one of the better preseasons of all the guys. He's smart. He'll be fine. The biggest thing is the continuity and not being in there with the guys. So that's going to take some time. There will be some bumps."
To replace Carimi on the 53-man roster, the Bears have promoted T Levi Horn from the practice squad. Horn has spent a majority of the last two seasons on the Bears practice squad after entering the NFL in 2010 as an undrafted free agent out of Montana. A four-year starter for the Grizzlies (2006-09), the 6-6, 320-pound Horn was named an All-American by the American Football Coaches Association after helping Montana to a 14-1 record his senior year. During his collegiate career, he started 37 of 53 games played.
Horn played both right guard and right tackle in training camp this year but was much more effective on the edge. He lacks ideal lateral quickness but he's very powerful and could be an asset in the run game if called into duty.
The Bears worked out free agent tackle Jordan Black this week and it's expected the team will sign him early next week. The 31-year-old has been in the league since 2003 and worked with Mike Tice while the two were together in Jacksonville. If signed, he'll serve as the team's primary swing tackle.
It's unclear who the Bears will demote once Black is signed. They may send Horn back down but my money is on the team cutting Frank Omiyale, who has been downright awful this season.
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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.