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Bears offensive tackle Gabe Carimi unaware of scrutiny, criticism

Right tackle Gabe Carimi (shown against Jaguars) is unfazed by critics. ‘‘People are going [say] some negative stuff’’ he said.

Right tackle Gabe Carimi (shown against the Jaguars) is unfazed by critics. ‘‘People are going to [say] some negative stuff,’’ he said. ‘‘It is what it is.’’ | AP

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Updated: December 12, 2012 6:44AM

Always affable and usually available in the often-barren locker room during open-media sessions, Bears offensive tackle Gabe Carimi seems oblivious to the constant scrutiny of his performance, his status and his future with the team.

That’s because he is oblivous to it.

‘‘I don’t read anything you guys put out, so I don’t know,’’ Carimi, a second-year right tackle, said last week. ‘‘And I don’t care. I know I’m playing pretty good football.’’

If only there were a way to quantify that, other than to say Carimi — like everyone else on the offensive line — is 7-1 this season. But there isn’t. Most certifiable statistics on Carimi don’t provide any kind of context. He leads the Bears with eight penalties: three false starts, four holding penalties and an unnecessary-roughness penalty.

As luck would have it, Carimi’s roughness penalty for retaliating against Green Bay Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk was hard to miss. In a prime-time game — of course — it stunted the Bears’ most promising first-half drive in an eventual 23-10 loss at Lambeau Field.

The scrutiny only has intensified since then, as Carimi continues to come back from a knee injury that ended his rookie season in Week 2. But it’s not affecting him because he’s not aware of it.

‘‘Not really,’’ he said. ‘‘The only people that matter are the guys upstairs [at Halas Hall]. Besides last week [against the Tennessee Titans], they’ve got me playing
really good ball, especially coming off the injury.

‘‘Whatever. There’s scrutiny
because at my position you can’t do anything right. A defensive lineman can get destroyed every play. He gets two sacks, and all of the sudden [he’s had a great game]. And no one knows what he was doing the rest of the time. . . .

‘‘The only thing you can do is negative, so I don’t care. People are going to scrutinize. People are
going to [say] some negative stuff. It is what it is.’’

Carimi acknowledged the game last week against the Titans was his least impressive of the season.

‘‘Not as [good] as I wanted to be,’’ he said. ‘‘I thought I was playing good ball, [but] last game was kind of edgy. I still graded out winning football. I didn’t fail. Every week we’re graded, and I haven’t failed a game yet. I was getting . . . high B’s for weeks before that, and this week was like a C. It wasn’t a D or an F.’’

Offensive coordinator Mike Tice acknowledged Carimi’s subpar performance against the Titans but didn’t seem too concerned about it.

‘‘Gabe probably didn’t have one of his better games, and I think he’d be one of the first to tell you that,’’ Tice said.

Because Carimi played less than six quarters last season, this is virtually his rookie season. The grading scale might be more rigid next season. For now, though, Carimi is being allowed the opportunity to learn from his mistakes.

‘‘He’s a very astute player for a young guy,’’ Tice said. ‘‘He has a plan each week. He had a certain approach he thought they were
going to take on him. They took a different approach. I know —
because I talked to him — [that] he wished he would have altered his plan and changed up his sets. But that’s a young player working through some things and learning.’’

Every week is a challenge for Carimi, but Sunday will be a good test of how quickly he is learning. The Houston Texans are second in the NFL in rushing defense (82.4 yards per game) and fourth in sacks per pass play (24 total).

Carimi will face Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, who leads the NFL with 101/2 sacks. But Watt moves around in coordinator Wade Phillips’ 3-4 defense, so Carimi also will face outside linebackers Brooks Reed and Whitney Mercilus.

‘‘I’ve never had any trouble with the 3-4, identifying assignments or anything like that,’’ Carimi said. ‘‘Sometimes I feel like it’s easier
going against a linebacker and then a big defensive end versus a guy that’s in between.’’

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