Moon: Carimi is a case of attitude

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Moon: Carimi is a case of attitude

Sunday, May 1, 2011
Posted: 10:27 a.m.
By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The first thing that strikes you about Gabe Carimi, after his sheer mass at 6-7, 315 pounds, is the attitude.

Not the ever-popular, ever-clichd mean streak." If you dont have at least a level of mean streak, youre not in the NFL; if you have too much mean streak, youre getting too many 15-yard penalties and youre headed for MMA.

But with Carimi its the attitude that actually matters and one that not every player has. And if they dont, they will only be so good.

There are only two options, Carimi said Saturday. You never can stay consistent. Improvement is the only way to go. I have a hunger to try to succeed at whatever I do. Thats the objective: to be the best Bear offensive lineman I can be.

Not everyone walks into Halas Hall with that attitude. For some, being a high draft choice is the accomplishment. For Carimi, its a dare.
WATCH: Bears' Carimi gets first look at Halas Hall

And he put that on himself when he declared at the NFL Scouting Combine that he was the best of a good tackle crop in this draft. Indeed, he doesnt quite get why someone wouldnt feel that way.

What am I going to say? That I dont think Im the best tackle or going to be the best tackle? Carimi wondered. But I am more than happy. This is exactly where I wanted to be, to be honest with you. If you ask any of my close friends, I told them, when they asked me, Where do you fit best in, or where do you think you want to go, I told them that I wanted to be a Bear.

The right guy

Every personnel executive after every draft pick declares that the particular pick was precisely the guy they wanted. In the case of the Bears and Carimi, that in fact was the case.

The Bears wouldve been delighted with Tyron Smith from USC (to Dallas No. 9), Nate Solder from Colorado (to New England No. 17), Anthony Castonzo from Boston College (to Indianapolis No. 22) and Carimi. What they got with Carimi was a four-starter with a top Big Ten program with a history of producing solid linemen.

Hes been an outstanding player at Wisconsin for four years, said offensive line coach Mike Tice. Hes gotten better every year. Hes gotten tougher every year too.

Were trying to get bigger. Film doesnt lie. Hell bring everything that were looking to bring to the offensive line room: toughness, intelligence, size. Hes a solid athlete, maybe not a great athlete, but a solid athlete.
Creatively keeping the faith

Carimi is Jewish, which raises the question of whether he can or will play on the Jewish holidays. Sandy Koufax did not pitch a World Series game because it fell on the high holy days.

Carimi played last season against Arizona State after fasting based on observing Yom Kippur on Israeli time. He fasted and then received an IV to speed up recovery of nourishment.

And just to be sure, Carimi checked calendars and found Yom Kippur falling on no projected game day for more than a decade.

Yeah, thats what I did this year, Carimi said. It was Yom Yippur this year. Basically what I did was go off Israeli time. Fast at 12 oclock and then had like three hours to IV-up and eat.

I didnt feel any different. Ive already looked out 15 years from now and it doesnt happen on Sunday.

To his credit, Carimi also has adjusted a core belief system as far as his fan allegiance, which was to the Green Bay Packers because of his Wisconsin roots.

I was a Packers fan growing up, but Ive had my errors in my way, Carimi deadpanned. Ive sinned and repented, so Im good now. Ive seen the light.

Now, if he can see the 30-some pass protections of Tice and the Bears offense just as clearly, the Bears will have something.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Jordan Howard wants to lead Bears... and lead the league

Jordan Howard wants to lead Bears... and lead the league

So Jordan Howard finished second in the NFL in rushing in his rookie season, despite just a dozen carries in the first three games. The fifth-round pick joined the man who beat him out for the rushing title, Ezekiel Elliott, as one of just five rookies in history to average five or more yards per carry on over 250 carries. And he set the Bears' rookie rushing record with his 1,313 yards while becoming just the fourth in franchise history to rush for that many yards in a season.

Sounds pretty hard to top, like we might be set up for the dreaded sophomore slump.

But...

"Things are a lot different this year because I know what to expect," Howard said during the team's minicamp two weeks ago. "I know all the plays and things like that. I’m not out there thinking, so I can just play free and fast.

"I definitely feel like a veteran 'cause I know what to expect and can help the young guys on the plays that they're not understanding. I’m just more comfortable and want to be a leader."

One of the other things we learned about Howard last year is he's low-key, a man of few words. So the Indiana product by way of UAB will make his points verbally when needed, but his actions will speak louder.

"He was a rookie a year ago and didn't even go in trying to be a leader, telling a five-year guy what was up," said head coach John Fox. "I think with time, and obviously with production like he had, I think it's a role he can fall in to. We're in a performance-based business and even in that locker room, what they do on Sundays gives them some credibility."

One of the concerns about Howard coming out of college was durability, but he answered the bell once he became the starter in week four against Detroit. And he probably wasn't used nearly as much as he should have. The good news about that is he was subject to less wear and tear, averaging just 18 carries per game from that Lions game on.

But besides taking more of a leadership role, Howard wanted to work on his speed without sacrificing the strong base that, paired with keen vision and work by the offensive line, allowed him to hit holes quickly and charge toward the second level of opposing defenses.

"Just improving on the little things – my conditioning, my weight, catching passes. And looking for ways to finish runs better," says Howard. "I feel like I’m in much better shape than I was at this time last year, a little more toned-up."

"It's just training," said Fox. "When you get to that it's more like track speed than football speed and I think he proved pretty worthy of that a year ago as a rookie. Y'know we all can improve on things, and that's the expectation. He's trained hard.

"This time of year last year he wasn’t even practicing," Fox remembered. "I like where we are, we’ve brought in more competition, and he’s better for it. He’s kind of gotten used to an NFL season, he’s come back ready to roll, but he still has work to do before we get to training camp."  

Oh, and the 22-year-old has a couple of other goals he didn't mind sharing, besides being a leader and getting a little faster.

"First off, make the playoffs. Be the leading rusher, and just help the team in any way I can and stay consistent."

Did Brandon Marshall disrespect Jay Cutler with Hall of Fame shade?

Did Brandon Marshall disrespect Jay Cutler with Hall of Fame shade?

Brandon Marshall is no stranger to keeping it real.

The outspoken All-Pro receiver never minces his words and that continued over the weekend when he showed off his signed jersey collection.

Marshall took to Instagram and showed off "Santa" hanging all of the jerseys he's swapped with other NFL players:

Santa doing work.. . #jerseychallenge

A post shared by Brandon Marshall (@bmarshall) on

The list includes a host of current and future Hall of Fame players: Champ Bailey, Cris Carter, John Lynch, Darrelle Revis, Lance Briggs, Adam Vinatieri, Adrian Peterson, Larry Fitzgerald, Joe Thomas.

When almost all the framed jerseys were hung, Marshall took his followers through:

@nfl #jerseychallenge

A post shared by Brandon Marshall (@bmarshall) on

Marshall compliments each player before, calling them "Hall of Famers" before getting to Jay Cutler at the end and going "Hall of..." multiple times.

Was that Marshall throwing shade at his former quarterback in both Denver and Chicago? If it was an innocent mistake or whatever, there's no way Marshall would've posted the Instagram video, right?

Marshall and Cutler were good friends from the beginning of their careers with the Broncos. So much so that the Bears traded a pair of third round draft picks in March 2012 to allow the two to continue their bromance by the lake:

But Marshall and Cutler have had a contentious relationship since.

Last summer, Marshall responded to a Tweet saying "of course" he misses Cutler. Last August, Marshall hopped on ESPN's First Take and said he thought Cutler could win the MVP Award in the 2016 NFL season.

At the same time, Marshall talked about his relationship with Cutler and said he was the only person on the Bears with the "huevos" to hold the enigmatic quarterback accountable. Marshall also said he was "sad" he didn't talk to Cutler much in the year leading up to August 2016.