ESPNChicago.com first reported that Gabe Carimi has decided to undergo more surgery on his injured right knee. Sources confirmed the procedure will take place soon, with the hope of tightening up the ligaments in the knee. He'll need approximately four months of rehabilitation, which would make him ready to go in late March, during the Bears' offseason training activities. He's expected to be able to participate in at least some of the activities.
Carimi, an Outland Trophy winner coming out of Wisconsin last year, was flagged by numerous NFL teams as an injury risk heading into the draft. Seven of the 10 prior Outland winners were Top-10 selections in the NFL draft. Yet Carimi fell all the way to Chicago at pick 29. Teams were scared off by his potential for injury, and obviously with good reason.
In Week 2, Carimi suffered subluxation of his right kneecap. He had surgery to repair the injury and rehabbed for more than a month. He practiced during the bye week but suffered a setback. He had his knee scoped shortly thereafter and was placed on injured reserve the following week.
Carimi recently sought a second opinion on the injury with a doctor outside the organization, who suggested the additional surgery. The hope is that all this work will bring him back at 100 percent come the start of training camp in 2012. He was the team's starter at right tackle from the second day of training camp this year and was performing better than the rest of his line mates, according to line coach Mike Tice at the time.
The Bears would like to get more than six quarters of production out of him next season, lest the Marc Columbo comparisons begin in earnest.
Bell showing up in all three phases
Running back Kahlil Bell led the team in yards from scrimmage last week (108) and scored his first career touchdown on a 25-yard pass from Caleb Hanie. He led all pass catchers in targets (6) and receptions (5). Coming into Sunday's game, he had caught just six total passes during his three-year career. Yet coach Lovie Smith said the team has had confidence in him all along coming out of the backfield.
"We continue to talk about how well he can catch the ball out of the backfield and we're giving him more time to see what he can do," said Smith. "I think he's a good football player. I mean, he's not Matt Forte; we don't have that guy in that position."
Bell said he's always been able to catch the ball but was never given the opportunity.
"I've never really been thrown to before in any part of my career," Bell said. "No one's ever really known I can catch, except my mom. My mom used to take me out and she'd tell me ‘run 10 yards and turn around, and as soon as you turn around, the ball's going to be on you.' A little kid, you just want to catch the ball. I turned around and the ball hit me in the nose. I had a nosebleed for five hours. That's kind of my story behind how I learned how to catch."
Bell also showed a lot of quickness as a runner against the Seahawks and had a number of nice blocks in pass protection.
"My goal has always been to be an every-down back in the NFL, and that's being able to block, run and catch the ball," said Bell. "I'm just going to try to keep taking advantage of the opportunities." It's safe to say, with the Bears out of the playoffs, he'll be getting plenty of opportunities to close out the season. Chicago's staff wants to see if he has the chops to be a primary backup. So far, his tryout has gone well. If he continues to execute down the stretch, he'll earn himself a bigger role next season.
Devin Hester is dealing with a couple of leg maladies (bruised shin, twisted ankle) that have curtailed his production the past month. On offense, he's caught just three passes the past six weeks, all coming in one game. As a kick returner, he has shown a lot of hesitancy. His last return TD came in Week 10 against the Detroit Lions.
"We're careful with all of our players. Every player that is suiting up is gutting it out at the end of the year. Every player in the NFL is gutting it out. If a guy is injured, then he doesn't play. If he has pain, you have to play with pain," said Smith. "That's just the situation we have with Devin and every other player we have. Devin is trying to work through some pain right now, that he's working through. It's a fine line there. I know he's doing everything he can to get out there and help his team win."
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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.