If 2011 first-round pick Gabe Carimi is trying to punch his ticket out of Chicago after two disappointing seasons, he’s on the right path.
Carimi missed his second straight OTA (organized team activity) practice Tuesday and is in danger of being buried on the depth chart behind other offensive linemen who are learning a new offense under coach Marc Trestman and coordinator Aaron Kromer.
“We’re all getting used to the new coaches and the new offense,” said center Roberto Garza, who could be the only Bears offensive lineman starting the 2013 opener at the same position as he did last season. “It’s important to be here and get a feel for the way we’re doing things and practice mode and learning techniques and the offense.”
The Bears have increased the competition level all along the offensive line, which has been ineffective for most of the last three seasons. They added unrestricted free agent Jermon Bushrod at left tackle and Matt Slauson at left guard earlier, and then drafted guard Kyle Long in the first round and tackle Jordan Mills in the fifth round.
During Tuesday’s session at Halas Hall, James Brown lined up with the first team at right guard, where Carimi started three games late last season after playing himself out of the right tackle job. Brown, an undrafted rookie last year, started the final three games at left guard last season.
Long took almost all of his snaps at right guard during last weekend’s rookie minicamp, and he’s expected to be the opening-day starter there. Carimi is expected to compete for the right guard job in training camp — if he’s still a Bear.
Slauson was at left guard with the first team Tuesday while Bushrod and J’Marcus Webb were at left and right tackle, respectively. Webb is expected to battle Jonathan Scott for the starting job.
Carimi is working out in Arizona, and he reportedly informed the Bears of that intention sometime after his last visit to Halas Hall on April 18, the final day of the voluntary minicamp.
“I know Gabe’s working out hard and getting his body ready to compete and put himself in a situation to make this team,” Garza said. “It’s all about putting yourself in the best situation physically and mentally.”
The 10 OTA practices are voluntary under the collective bargaining agreement, but players seeking a future with their team, especially a team with a new staff implementing a new scheme, almost always have perfect attendance at “voluntary” events.
The Bears’ final minicamp, June 11-13, is mandatory.
If he stays away until then, Carimi will have a difficult time catching his competition.
“That’s going to be tough,” running back Matt Forte said. “It’s probably pretty important to be here right now just with all the new faces around and the new offense especially.
“ We’re going over new stuff every day.”
Carimi is entering the third year of his four-year, $7.06 million rookie contract, which included a $3.63 million signing bonus. His base pay for 2013 is $1.02 million. In 2014, his base pay is $645,000 plus $692,000 in roster and workout bonuses.
After he was selected 29th overall out of Wisconsin, Carimi quickly earned the starting job at right tackle but suffered a knee injury in his second regular-season game. After multiple surgeries, the 6-foot-7, 316-pounder returned last season and started the first 10 games at right tackle before he was benched. Carimi was back in the starting lineup at right guard when Lance Louis suffered a knee injury. He moved to right tackle for Game 15 when Scott was out with a hamstring injury, but was benched again when Scott returned for the final game.
Ÿ Two rookies (guard Kyle Long and offensive tackle Jordan Mills) and two veterans (defensive tackle Andre Fluellen and safety Tom Zbikowski) were not at Tuesday’s session.
Long (Oregon) and Mills (Louisiana Tech) are ineligible because their schools haven’t finished finals. Zbikowski was taking the firefighters exam for the Chicago Fire Department.
Kicker Robbie Gould (calf) and wide receiver Brandon Marshall (hip) were at practice but didn’t participate as they continued to rehab.
Ÿ Follow Bob’s NFL reports on Twitter @BobLeGere, and check out his Bear Essentials blog at dailyherald.com/sports.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.