O-lining: Bears questions involve more than draft, free agency

O-lining: Bears questions involve more than draft, free agency
February 22, 2013, 3:00 pm
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A harsh light has been trained on the Bears offensive line for the past several seasons. It will be there throughout the draft, minicamps, training camp and preseason, on into the regular season until myriad issues are settled.

Because right now not many are.

Besides any draft-related questions, the future of former No. 1 pick Gabe Carimi is decidedly unsettled. He started last season as a tackle, spent part of it at guard after being benched, then back at tackle in relief of Jonathan Scott, and then as a backup to Scott at right tackle in game 16. 

Whether he is a guard or tackle is a matter for offseason work. And if the Bears sign a free-agent tackle, with Scott re-signed and J’Marcus Webb returning and the Bears draft a guard to go with James Brown and a re-signed and rehabbed Lance Louis…

One veteran observer wondered about a scenario where Carimi is in a fight for a roster spot. That may be a stretch but stranger roster moves have happened.

“Coaches are going to work through that during OTAs, during the winter, get to know Gabe, get to see what his strengths and weaknesses are,” said GM Phil Emery.

“Obviously, they’ve seen some things on tape. I think they see upside to him as a tackle or guard. So we’ll find out through the process, and that’ll take all the way through camp, to find his exact position.

“I do see that he has some flexibility. Gabe had some rough moments during the year. He had some good moments during the year. And he had some really good run-blocking moments. There are areas he needs to improve as a pass blocker. But he had good moments both at guard and at tackle.”

Louis and Scott are unknowns if only because neither is signed for 2013. Louis is coming off a season-ending knee injury and his readiness for training camp is not clear at this early point.

“Right now Lance is fully into his rehab and made significant progress,” Emery said. “We’re pleased with his progress.”

Emery found Scott without a team in September, signed him and saw him start five of the last six games. The intention is to re-sign him.

“He added positively to our group,” Emery said. “He helped us win games. At some point we’ll sit down with his agent and hopefully move forward.”

A Jake Long sighting?

The name of former No. 1-overall pick Jake Long has been in the tackle discussion, with him coming out of contract with the Miami Dolphins. He is seeking money in the $10-million range, which the Dolphins sound reluctant to offer because of a triceps injury that ended his 2013 season.

“We’ve talked with Jake, we’ve talked with his representative as well, we’ve made our desire to have him back on this football team known,” said Miami GM Jeff Ireland. “But that’s a tricky one, as I said at the Senior Bowl. There are a lot of things that you normally don’t have in that particular case, some of the details I don’t want to get into, but it’s just a complicated negotiation…. I’d love to have him back; he’s been a pillar for our football team since the day he stepped on campus.”

But the injury history, “I don’t want to say it’s an issue, it’s something we look at, obviously we have more intimate knowledge of his health than anybody else, so it’s something we’re aware of,” Ireland said.