By Adam Hoge-
HALAS HALL (CBS) While Bears right tackle Gabe Carimi rebounded from a slow start to training camp and looked better as it went on, it still didn’t appear he was fully recovered from the right knee injury he sustained last season.
Offensive coordinator Mike Tice confirmed Wednesday that Carimi is not 100 percent and suggested that the right tackle might not even be able to take all the snaps during Sunday’s opener against the Colts.
“He’s going to take awhile to be up to full speed,” Tice said. “I don’t believe he’s all the way back yet. The endurance in his leg is going to come with game time. We are certainly going to be very careful if it appears he’s getting tired. We have other guys — you know Chris (Williams) — that can go and spell him a little bit if we have to.”
The Bears did that with Carimi at times during training camp, but didn’t have to during preseason games because the starters never played a full game. Sunday’s game will be Carimi’s first full game since Week 1 of last season — the only full NFL game he has played in his young career.
“I’m anxious to see him play,” Tice said. “I thought he came on real well at the end of the preseason. Really was run blocking well at the end of the preseason. His pass protection has gotten better so I’m excited to see how he matures as a player and how he grows. He’s a big part of what we’re trying to do and what we’re trying to be.”
Indeed, Carimi is a big part of the Bears offense, which is why his playing time Sunday will be a big storyline to watch.
Lack Of Film A Disadvantage
The Indianapolis Colts have had so much turnover since last season that film study has been a issue this week for the Bears.
In addition to watching Colts preseason film, the Bears have also had to watch Baltimore Ravens’ film, where Chuck Pagano was the defensive coordinator last year.
“It’s not the easiest thing, you’re kind of doing educated guesses,” quarterback Jay Cutler said. “You’re looking at some stuff the coaches did on other teams and what they did successfully last year as a Colts organization. You kind of have to mix and match your film and look at Baltimore, look at the Colts, look at some other stuff. You might have to look at some extra film just to cover your bases, but at the end of the day, we’re kind of guessing at what we’re going to be looking at.”
Preparing For Double-Teams
The Colts made it pretty clear Wednesday that they are worried about Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall. That, of course, means the possibility of double-teams.
“I think it’s more than a possibility. I think it’s going to happen,” Cutler said. “So he’s going to have to be a decoy for us. He’s going to have to keep running his routes on the backside whether there’s one or two guys on him. He understands that.”
The good news is that the Bears have more receiving options than ever before and other opportunities will open themselves up if Marshall gets extra attention.
“We have a lot of weapons,” Tice said. “So (Marshall is) one weapon that we have. We have a lot of weapons. And we’re going to make sure we’re going to the weapons that have the best chance of winning. That’s how we are going to play offense the entire season. And it’s going to change from week-to-week, from quarter-to-quarter from series-to-series. That’s how it’s going to be.
What To Expect From Rodriguez
When the Bears decided to cut fullback Tyler Clutts, it left them with no fullbacks on the roster. Instead, the coaches elected to keep four tight ends and listed rookie Evan Rodriguez as the No. 1 fullback/tight end.
So what does that mean in terms of playing time?
“He’s going to get a lot of playing time,” Tice said. “We’re going to play four tight ends. We don’t have a fullback on the roster so we anointed him that guy.”
Rodriguez has emerged as a legitimate blocker and pass-catching tight end, but he still needs polishing and experience. It appears the Bears are going to ease him into a hybrid role and see how the rookie responds.
Adam is the Sports Editor for CBSChicago.com and specializes in coverage of the Bears, White Sox and college sports. He was born and raised in Lincoln Park and attended St. Ignatius College Prep before going off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a Journalism degree. Follow him on Twitter @AdamHogeCBS and read more of his columns here.