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Protecting quarterback Jay Cutler at right guard a tall order for Bears

Chicago Bears tackle Gabe Carimi (72) is field first half exhibitiseasopener against Denver Broncos Thursday August 9 2012 Soldier Field

Chicago Bears tackle Gabe Carimi (72) is on the field in the first half of the exhibition season opener against the Denver Broncos Thursday August 9, 2012 at Soldier Field in Chicago. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: December 30, 2012 3:58PM



Bears quarterback Jay Cutler doesn’t care that his new starting right guard is 6 feet, 7 inches tall.

“I don’t care if he’s 6-10,” Cutler joked. “If he does his job, I’ll find a way.”

Right now, that right guard would be Gabe Carimi, formerly the Bears’ 6-7, 316-pound starting right tackle. Veteran lineman Edwin Williams, for the time being, will be on the left.

It’s Carimi’s path from first-round pick to injured reserve to starting right tackle to demoted extra to starting right guard that’s come to embody the current state of the Bears’ offensive line. It’s truly a patchwork group with five games left in the season.

Did Carimi ever think he’d be in this position?

“No,” he said. “[But] it doesn’t really matter. I’m happy to help out the team wherever I can.”

With Lance Louis on injured reserve, Chris Spencer missing practice with a sprained left knee and James Brown and Andre Gurode in need of work, Carimi is the Bears’ best option. The whole situation may turn out to be a blessing for Carimi if he excels. He wouldn’t be the first tackle to make the switch.

“Oh, there’s probably hundreds of them,” offensive coordinator Mike Tice said. “I can’t give you a list. The one that stands out the most notably to me is the kid from Iowa with the long black hair, [Robert] Gallery. He was a first-round pick and ended up playing guard.”

Like Carimi, Gallery came from the Big Ten, but his career recently ended in disappointment.

But Carimi is getting his chance at guard much earlier in his career and still has ample time to develop.

Carimi, who has been praised often for his approach and work ethic, spent all practice Wednesday at right guard, a position he played for the first time Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. Afterward, he went against defensive tackles Stephen Paea and Nate Collins in one-on-one drills.

There are adjustments to make.

“Contact happens a lot quicker interior than it does the exterior of the line,” said Jonathan Scott, who took Carimi’s spot at right tackle. “It has to deal with leverage. It has to deal with technique. You just keep things in mind and know where you are in the field.”

Carimi’s previous experience at guard consisted of two days of practice at the 2011 Senior Bowl.

“I practiced two days. I didn’t have any schemes or anything when I did that,’’ Carimi said. ‘‘It was very basic. We’re doing an NFL offense now.”



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