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Bears’ Gabe Carimi can look to Jimbo Covert for help at Superdome


Gabe Carimi blocks Kroy Biermann Falcons his first NFL start Sunday. His second start will be greater challenge. | Jonathan

Gabe Carimi blocks Kroy Biermann of the Falcons in his first NFL start Sunday. His second start will be a greater challenge. | Jonathan Daniel~Getty Images

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Updated: November 10, 2011 9:47AM



Two games into his NFL career in 1983, Jimbo Covert already was proving Mike Ditka right for handing him the starting left tackle job the day he arrived at Bears minicamp.

After surviving the season opener at home without incident, Covert held the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Lee Roy Selmon — a Pro Bowl defensive end in the prime of his career — without a sack in a victory at Soldier Field.

Then he faced an even tougher challenge he wasn’t ready for, the New Orleans Superdome. A week after holding the great Selmon sack-less, Covert allowed two sacks in a 34-31 overtime loss to the Saints — because he couldn’t hear the snap count.

‘‘Hearing the cadence was especially difficult,’’ Covert said. ‘‘I played a pretty good football game. The sacks I had, that was just because I was trying to hear.

‘‘That’s a really difficult proposition for a left tackle. You’ve got a defensive end lined up as far away from you as possible because he’s trying to get to the quarterback, and you can’t hear the snap count.

‘‘You can’t watch him because if you watch him, he’s already beat you. You’ve got to kind of look at the ball, look at him, look at the ball, look at him, and you know how difficult that is. It’s a very intense situation where 75,000 people are screaming and you can’t hear and it’s third-and-12 and you’ve got to make a first down. That’s a difficult proposition for anybody, let alone a rookie.’’

That’s the challenge Gabe Carimi faces this week, a rookie tackle playing his second NFL game in the Superdome against a defense that ranked fourth in the league in yards allowed last year. No matter how well-prepared he might think he is, he’s missing what he needs most.

‘‘It’s just going to require experience,’’ Covert said. ‘‘That’s really what he’ll gain. Every game he’s going to get better. He’s going to see more. There was night-and-day difference between my first three or four games and my last five or six games. You get more confident. You understand the offense. You don’t have to think about it.’’

Carimi isn’t there yet. But it looks like he’ll get there.

‘‘He’s well-coached,’’ Covert said. ‘‘He has the body, the height, the mass, the long arms and athletic ability you look for. He has the tenacity and a little bit of that defensive mentality that you need. He has all the intangibles.’’

99 yards to … Wes Welker?

Bears cornerback Tim Jennings running down Michael Turner on Turner’s 53-yard run in the second-half Sunday might not have been a difference-maker. But you can’t take it for granted after seeing that the Miami Dolphins had no one who could catch New England Patriots receiver Wes Welker on his 99-yard touchdown Monday night. Welker runs a 4.65-second 40-yard dash. His previous long touchdown catch in seven NFL seasons was 35 yards.

The 5-9 Welker might be the most unlikely player to go 99 yards for a touchdown since Lions punter/wide receiver Pat Studstill in 1966. Studstill led the NFL in receiving that season but averaged only 19 receiving yards a game in his career.

Welker’s big play raises the bar for Bears wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher, who like Welker is short, has great hands and was undrafted out of college. Sanzenbacher is taller (5-11) and faster — he ran a 4.48 40 at the NFL combine.

Ratings game

The Bears were between 11th and 17th in most preseason power rankings but jumped from 13th to seventh in ESPN.com’s rankings — between the No. 6 Saints and No. 8 Steelers. The unbeaten Packers are No. 1.

Bits & pieces

The Bears had two offensive line penalties against the Falcons, both of them holding calls against J’Marcus Webb in the fourth quarter with the Bears leading 30-12. In last year’s opener against the Lions, the Bears had five penalties on the line, including a holding call on tight end Brandon Manumaleuna.

◆ The next three quarterbacks the Bears face — Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton — averaged 384 yards passing and a 117.5 rating (eight touchdowns, one interception) in Week 1.

◆ There were 78 touchbacks out of 156 kickoffs in Week 1 (50 percent). In Week 1 last year, there were 29 touchbacks out of 133 kickoffs (22 percent).

◆ Simeon product Martez Wilson, a third-round pick of the Saints after a breakout season at Illinois in 2010, is playing special teams and pushing for playing time at linebacker.



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