This week, the Bears have begun organized team activities, or OTAs. Everyone on the current roster is in attendance with the exception of offensive linemen Gabe Carimi and Kyle Long. Long has to finish his classes at Oregon before he can continue his NFL career.
Carimi, the third-year player out of Wisconsin, has chosen to train on his own in Arizona instead of with his teammates. He did attend the veteran minicamp, which took place before the NFL Draft, but he has not practiced with the team since.
Technically, the OTAs are “voluntary.” But let’s be honest with ourselves. Every NFL team prefers that all active players participate. This holds especially true for the Bears because there is a new head coach with a new playbook and a new philosophy at the helm.
Voluntary or not, I feel that ALL players should be on hand to learn the new scheme that the Bears will use in 2013. I also feel that OTAs are a great opportunity to bond with the veterans, to meet and get to know the rookies and to create the chemistry that is so important for the grind of an NFL season.
Even though the former Badger is missing out, I’m not losing sleep over it. He has yet to live up to the expectations that were brought upon him when he was drafted two years ago. In his rookie season, Carimi suffered a season-ending injury only a few weeks into the 2011 schedule.
Last year, the former first-round draft pick missed some of the offseason workouts, as he was still recovering from surgery. Once Carimi returned to the field, however, he was not the same player, as he wound up having a miserable sophomore campaign.
He was one of the many offensive linemen that struggled to protect Jay Cutler. His poor play would see him move from offensive tackle to guard before eventually being benched. Coming into 2013, I had very high hopes that Carimi would improve with a new coaching staff that is based around offense.
Instead, No. 72 has decided to skip out on his teammates who have chosen to take this opportunity to adapt to the new style of football that the Bears will play this year. But not to worry Bears fans… With the money that general manager Phil Emery invested in the offensive line this year, there will be plenty of hungry athletes ready to step into Carimi’s place.
If Carimi is trying to seek his release as some have suspected, he could very well be headed in that direction. For now, Phil Emery has publicly stated that he does not have an issue with Carimi's absence.
Even if that is the case, perhaps Carimi's teammates and coaches have taken issue with the matter. Despite where Gabe Carimi goes from here, I have confidence this year that the Bears will have no problem replacing him if they need to.