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Injuries force Bears’ offensive line into new look

Chris Spencer missed Seahawks game (12/2) with knee injury.

Chris Spencer missed the Seahawks game (12/2) with a knee injury.

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Updated: November 30, 2011 12:18AM



Here we go again?

With rookie offensive tackle Gabe Carimi expected to miss four to six weeks with a partially dislocated right kneecap, the Bears not only have lost one of their best linemen, but will go into Sunday’s game against the defending Super Bowl champion Packers with their third different starting offensive line in three games.

Right guard Lance Louis, who started the opener against the Falcons but missed last Sunday’s game against the Saints with an ankle injury, practiced on a limited basis Wednesday and could miss the Packers game.

Chris Spencer likely would start again for Louis. Frank Omiyale will start for Carimi. For a line that survived on continuity in the second half of last season, it puts the Bears in a precarious position. But offensive line coach Mike Tice insisted it’s not a step back to Square 1.

‘‘No, no, no, no. We’re not a work in progress,’’ Tice said after practice Wednesday at Halas Hall. ‘‘I said a couple of weeks ago I felt we were eight deep and I still feel we’re eight deep.

‘‘Now it’s time for these guys to step up and show us that we kept the right guys [on the roster] and we did the right thing by not bringing in other guys. That’s up to them to do that and it’s up to me to get them ready.’’

The Bears have a lot of room for improvement after Sunday’s protection meltdown against the Saints. The offense allowed five sacks, and had two false-start penalties in the last 15 plays of the game.

‘‘We fell apart at the end. It was embarrassing,’’ Tice said. ‘‘There are a lot of culprits, including us coaches and we need to clean it up. We have to get better in communication. We have to be more consistent in our run blocking. And we have to finish games ­better.’’

As for Carimi, it appears the Bears will be fortunate to have their first-round draft pick (29th overall) back before midseason. ‘‘It’s unfortunate because he was playing some of the best ball of all our guys,’’ Tice said. ‘‘He’s an elite player. And when you lose a player like that for an extended period of time, it’s never good.’’

Still, Tice is upbeat about the prospect of Carimi returning on schedule.

‘‘He’s a tough son-of-a-[buck], I can tell you that much,’’ Tice said. ‘‘Fortunately for him — fortunately or unfortunately — he’s had the injury before. So he knows what it feels like and when it’s going to start feeling good and when he can start pushing it.

‘‘But the bottom line is that it’s a serious injury. It’s not like he’s going to be back next week. We hope to get Lance [Louis] back, because we think he’s one of our better players. We’ve just got to move forward. ’’



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