When right tackle Gabe Carimi was selected by the Bears in the first round of the 2011 draft, one of the distinctions on his pedigree was that he had gone against four other No. 1 picks of the draft. He had gone against the best of the defensivelineman class:
Ryan Kerrigan (Washington, 16th) from Purdue, Adrian Clayborn (Tampa Bay, 20th) from Iowa), Ohio States Cameron Heyward (Pittsburgh, 31st).
And J.J. Watt, to Houston at No. 11. From Wisconsin. Like Carimi.
Watt, a leading candidate for NFL defensive player of the year, went against Badgers teammate John Moffett (third round, Seattle) more often in practice, Carimi told CSNChicago.com. But Carimi saw enough of Watt to know that he and the Bears offensive line are looking at with the defensive lineman on Sunday.
He plays a different position than he did in Wisconsin, Carimi said. Houston is in a 3-4 so he plays a lot of inside stuff. Thats where he does a lot of his good plays, on the inside. I dont think it matters or pertains as much. He does line up at defensive end sometimes, five-technique, but a lot of times hell be over Lance Louis.
Watt is already close to making a spot for himself in NFL history. He has 10.5 sacks through eight games plus 10 passes deflected (Charles Tillman has five; team leader Tim Jennings has 12). Since the NFL started tracking pass-breakups in 1991, only 11 players have recorded 10 sacks and 10 passes defensed in a single season.
Watt has become the Texans equivalent of Julius Peppers, a 6-foot-66-foot-7, 290-pound athlete who is moved around for positions of mismatch advantage. Watt will be opposite right guard Louis; he will be over Carimi; he will be over the nose.
Were able to move him around, do some different things with him, inside, outside, nickel, base, said Texans coach Gary Kubiak, so thats been a big plus.
Plus may not be the first word Bears blockers think of watching film of Watt. Of his 10 pass deflections, four have been intercepted and eventually led to scores.
Hes a big guy, he can move, he plays with a lot of passion for the game, said center Roberto Garza. So its good, it will be a good challenge for our guys. Were looking forward to it.