The winds of change continued to blow Thursday at Halas Hall.
The latest change for Lovie Smith’s slumping club came when struggling offensive right tackle Gabe Carimi was benched. He will be replaced by veteran Jonathan Scott, who was signed as a free agent Sept. 10 after he was cut by the Detroit Lions.
Left guard Chilo Rachal was demoted a day earlier in favor of Chris Spencer and stormed out of Halas Hall, quitting on the team. On Thursday he was placed on the reserve/non-football injury list, meaning he cannot play again this year.
Smith wouldn’t confirm the latest move, but Carimi indicated that he had been benched when he said he “Just (worked with) the scout team,” during Thursday‘s practice.
“It’s obviously upsetting,” said the 2011 first-round pick from Wisconsin. “But I’ve got a positive attitude about this. I’ll come back from this. I know it.”
Carimi was beaten for 3½ sacks Monday night against the San Francisco 49ers, and he has been penalized nine times this season, more than anyone on the team.
Smith refused to acknowledge the obvious.
“What move?” Smith said when asked about right tackle. “We don’t talk about things like that, as you know. I know the offensive line is excited about playing again.
“Whenever you play the way we did (against the 49ers), you want to get back on the football field and play another game, and that’s where we are.”
Carimi has not played at the same high level since suffering a knee injury that necessitated surgery early in his rookie year after just 1½ games.
Offensive coordinator Mike Tice has praised Carimi’s hard work but said that Carimi sometimes gets overaggressive and lets early mistakes compound themselves as the game progresses.
“I just messed up on a couple plays here and there,” Carimi said. “I played good ball. I’m just inconsistent right now.
“Be it the knee or be it aggression, who knows what it is sometimes? But I know I will come back from this. I’m just going to keep on focusing and working hard, and I will be back out there eventually.”
Carimi was informed of the demotion at Thursday’s practice.
“They just told me the new guy is coming in,” he said, “(and) keep on working hard like I always do.”
The “new guy” is six-year veteran Scott, who has started 28 NFL games, including five last season and nine in 2010 for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Scott said he had not been formally told he would start, but that’s how the Bears practiced on Thanksgiving Day.
“(Thursday was) just getting in the flow of things, getting the mesh with the other guys,” he said. “We’re five interchangeable parts working as one, so I just have to be on their page, on the same page.
“I’m excited for any direction it may go.”
With his own experience and help from his linemates, Scott is taking a confident approach.
“(It’s) just knowing that you have the ability to play and play at a certain level that’s expected on a professional stage,” he said. “You also have to realize the help of my teammates to get me to that point.
“(Center) Roberto (Garza) has been momentous in helping me understand the scheme. (Guard) Lance (Louis) has definitely helped me just understanding the concept of the offense. I think that’s definitely going to be instrumental for winning.”
As for Rachal, the Bears are moving on without him. On Wednesday, undrafted rookie James Brown was promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man roster, and on Thursday guard Chris Riley was added to the practice squad.
Smith was asked if there’s any chance of Rachal, who started the previous eight games, returning.
“I guess there’s some hope,” Smith said. “But right now he’s not practicing with the team. That’s about all I can really say on it.
“It’s another thing we (have to) deal with. But we have other options. Team-wise, you have to look at it as an injury. Guys go down, and it’s always about the next guy stepping up.”
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