(MCT) — CHICAGO — The Chicago Bears are going to pick up where they left off with their offensive line and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Barring a sudden return to health from guard Chris Spencer, who missed Wednesday’s practice with a bruised left knee, former first-round draft pick Gabe Carimi will start at right guard Sunday against the Seahawks at Soldier Field.
Offensive coordinator Mike Tice said James Brown, an undrafted free agent from Troy also will get a look, but with the Bears in the postseason hunt it would be surprising if they turned to a rookie. Edwin Williams, who has 12 career starts, will play left guard. He finished there in Sunday’s 28-10 victory over the Vikings. Newcomer Andre Gurode is just getting up to speed with the playbook.
“We’ll try to make sure we have the best five guys, and at the same time we have to have seven guys ready because if one of the guys can’t handle (things), then we have to move another guy in,” Tice said. “We can’t wait until Monday and say we should have made a change. If we have to make one, we’ll make one.”
Benched as the right tackle after the Nov. 19 loss to the 49ers, Carimi suddenly finds himself back in the mix as a key player in any Bears success. The offense has been bogged down and made so basic because of pass protection issues that it has to improve over the course of the next five games for the team to have a chance in the playoffs.
“I am just looking to step in wherever I can,” said Carimi, who is trying to get used to the quicker action inside.
With two padded practices remaining for the entire season, coach Lovie Smith elected to use one Wednesday and Carimi was one of the last players to leave the field as he worked on one-on-ones with defensive tackles Stephen Paea and Nate Collins. In the collective bargaining agreement adopted last year, teams are permitted one practice in full pads for each of the first 11 weeks and then three padded practices the rest of the season. Players said the Bears used one last week meaning there is one left now, a rare chance for linemen to go full speed and be evaluated.
“If Gabe has to play it’s not like Gabe hasn’t been playing all year so he has a good feel, and Edwin has played before for us so we’ll see how it goes,” said quarterback Jay Cutler, who was sacked only once in a basic game plan against the Vikings. “To get sent down like that it was tough on (Carimi). I talked to him, Coach Tice talked to him. ... We felt like he just needed a little break.
“You never know when guys are going to go down and now he’s back at guard. It wasn’t too long before he got back in there.”
Cutler says he isn’t worried about having trouble seeing over Carimi, who at 6 feet 7 is taller than typical interior linemen.
“I don’t care if he’s 6-10,” he said. “If he does his job, I’ll find a way.”