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Chicago Bears

Stadium: Soldier Field | Coach: John Fox
Team RankingOverallRushingPassing
Offense21st115.9 (11th)228.8 (23rd)
Defense14th120.9 (21st)224.6 (4th)

Cutler to start workouts

The Sports Xchange
Strategy And Personnel · Notes, Quotes · Cutler to start workouts

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler told the Chicago Sun-Times the team's offensive players will soon be getting together for workouts.

Cutler said, "Now is the time for everyone to kind of get together and brush it off, and we're going to do that here in the next couple of weeks. Everything is locked and loaded."

Asked if it could happen this week, Cutler said, "Maybe. We'll see. We're about to do something here soon enough. But no one is probably going to know about it."

Noting that players in attendance will be on the offensive side of the ball, Cutler said, "I mean, those defenders have been in the system for eight years, nine years. "What are they gonna do? What am I going to tell Lach (linebacker Brian Urlacher)? 'Your drop is a little short. Sorry, buddy.' Offensively, we have a lot of room to improve."

Cutler said his knee, which was injured in the team's conference championship game loss to Green Bay, is "good to go. It feels good."

He was also pleased to see the team select tackle Gabe Carimi in the first round of the draft.

"I love it, anytime an offensive guy gets picked," Cutler said. "To me, it's like a new toy we get to play with, so it's fun."

--In the end, the Bears got their man.

They also got the self-proclaimed best offensive tackle in the draft when they took Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi with the 29th overall pick Thursday night.

Most NFL teams didn't agree with the 6-7, 314-pound Carimi's assessment, since he was the fifth tackle and the seventh offensive lineman selected.

But the Bears got a four-year starter at left tackle, who faced some of the top defensive ends in the country. They included first-round picks Ryan Kerrigan of Purdue (16th overall), Adrian Clayborn of Iowa (20th overall) and Ohio State's Cameron Heyward (31st overall). He also benefited from going against another first-round pick in practice, teammate J.J. Watt, who was the 11th overall pick Thursday night.

"I know I can play right away," Carimi said at the Scouting Combine. "That's my best asset. I'm a draft-ready tackle. I'm physically stronger and have more career starts and better knowledge of the game than any other tackle out there. That's why I'm the No. 1 tackle out there."

The Bears did extensive work on scouting Carimi, but they had some anxious moments awaiting their pick and hoping he would last.

"We were really fortunate to get a quality lineman like Gabe," general manager Jerry Angelo said. "Being in our backyard, we were able to see him play a lot. We feel like we can know as much as you can know about this player. He really does fit the profile that we were looking for."

Some talent evaluators believe Carimi is better suited to right tackle, but he believes he'll be fine staying on the left side, where he started 49 games for the Badgers.

"I'm a physical, tough player who finishes plays," Carimi said. "I can run block as well as pass block."

One knock against Carimi is that he came across as being too confident, bordering on arrogant, during his postseason and Combine interviews.

"If you look at any of the interviews I did at Wisconsin, I always talked about my teammates," Carimi said. "That (overconfidence rap) was just my own confidence in being able to play my position."

Angelo was asked if he was bothered by Carimi's attitude.

"Nah," he said, "I hope he's right, now."

Carimi said he wasn't disappointed to slip to the No. 29 spot and was looking forward to working with Bears offensive line coach Mike Tice.

"I can't wait," he said. "Left tackle, right tackle, wherever the Bears need me, I'm glad to be able to be plugged in. I can't wait to play for Mike Tice."

Carimi is Jewish, and he was asked at the Combine about playing on Jewish holidays.

Basically what I did (during Yom Kippur last season) was go off Israeli time," he said. "I fasted at 12 o'clock and then had like three hours to IV up and eat. I didn't feel any different. I've already looked out 15 years from now and it doesn't happen on Sunday."

An early run on quarterbacks - four in the first 12 picks - left plenty of defensive line and offensive line talent on the board, areas where the Bears were looking to upgrade. But the available talent on both lines was quickly snapped up starting with Watt at No. 11. Three more O-linemen went from No. 22-25. But, when the next three picks were wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin, cornerback Jimmy Smith and running back Mark Ingram, the Bears were left looking at Carimi to fill their greatest area of need.

The Bears attempted a trade with the Ravens to move up to the No. 25 spot, fearful Carimi would be gone at 29, but Angelo said a procedural glitch on the Bears' part torpedoed that swap, which he apologized for to the Ravens.

"But it worked out," Angelo said. "We got our player and I feel they got their player and we moved on."

--The Bears started out intent on filling their most pressing needs, and did a great job of it with Wisconsin All-America offensive tackle Gabe Carimi in the first round and Oregon State's defensive tackle Stephen Paea in Round 2. But the third-round pick of safety Chris Conte was a reach at best, and a bit puzzling considering wide receiver and linebacker seemed to be greater needs.


Tackle Gabe Carimi: He might not ever be a Pro-Bowl left tackle, but the 29th overall pick immediately upgrades the Bears' weak offensive line at one of the tackle positions and should be a starter from Day One.


Safety Chris Conte: The third-round pick seemed to be a huge reach, considering a lot of draft evaluators had him rated much lower. But, considering the huge turnover the Bears have had at both safety positions since Lovie Smith took over (20 changes at each of the safety positions) you can't count Conte out.

A closer look at the Bears' picks:

Round 1/29 - Gabe Carimi, OT, 6-7, 314, Wisconsin

Four-year starter at left tackle for the Badgers had a total of 49 starts, and the Bears did not think he would be there at No. 29, which is why they made a bungled attempt to move up three spots. Tough, smart and hard-working. Might be better suited at right tackle rather than left tackle, but the consensus is that he could be in the starting lineup on opening day and has enough agility to contend for the left-tackle spot.

Round 2/53 - Stephen Paea, DT, 6-1, 303, Oregon State

The Bears believed their top defensive tackle prospects were about to start coming off the board, so they traded up nine spots, giving up their pick at No. 62 plus a fourth-rounder (127th overall) to move up. Paea did not play football until his final year of high school in Utah after emigrating from Tonga as a 16 year old. Was the Pac-10's defensive MVP last season. Fits more as a 3-technique tackle and is undersized for nose tackle, but the Bears believe he can handle the nose because of his superior strength.

Round 3/93 - Chris Conte, S, 6-2 1/2, 197, California

Played cornerback for three seasons, mostly as a backup, but switched to safety as a senior and became a full-time starter for the first time and was first-team All-Pac 10. Excellent height to match up with the biggest receivers but had only two career interceptions. Good speed (4.59 in the 40) but not great. Gets high marks for aggressiveness, tackling and run support but lacks some instincts and range as a free safety, where the Bears envision playing him.

Round 5/160 - Nathan Enderle, QB, 6-4, 240, Idaho

The Bears truly want to develop their own quarterbacks after last year's Todd Collins fiasco. Enderle is a four-year starter with a 17-29 won-loss record. Best season was as a junior, when he completed 61.5 percent of his passes with 22 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He had 22 touchdown passes last season but 16 interceptions with a weaker supporting cast. Played in a pro-style offense and is a student of the game and a hard worker.

Round 6/195 - J.T. Thomas, LB, 6-1, 241, West Virginia

Could contribute on special teams immediately and will need to if he makes the final roster. But Bears believe he can play all three linebacker positions, and they have only two linebackers under contract.

Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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