As the first-round draft pick for the Bears in 2011, Gabe Carimi walked into last season with plenty of expectations. The large right tackle was playing well until his knee gave out on him. Though he tried to make it back during the season, Carimi was put on the disabled list in November and has been rehabbing his knee since.
With Carimi, the Bears have a better line, but when can he play? According to general manager Phil Emery, soon. Emery has been impressed by how hard Carimi has been working at Halas Hall.
“[Carimi] has been working tremendously hard,” Emery said Wednesday night during a 45-minute conference call with Bears season ticket holders. “I have had a chance to visit with him a couple times and watch him rehab. We’re very excited that he’s coming back. He’s going to really help solidify our offensive line."
Emery also discussed the future of receiver Johnny Knox. The receiver's back was injured badly late in the 2011 season. There were reports that he would start the season on the physically unable to play list, but Lovie Smith said it was too early to make that kind of decision. Emery didn't give any guesses on when Knox would be back. Instead, he praised Knox's work ethic and said the decision will largely be left up to the player.
“He has made progress and will continue to make progress. As I’ve told him, ultimately it’ll be him that will decide when he comes back. It’ll be him telling us where he’s at in the rehab process. We’re a long ways from having to make that decision and we’re going to lean heavily on Johnny helping us make that decision.
“Johnny’s made every effort to get back as quick as he can, and he is making progress. Yeah, you want to be cautious because it was a tough injury. It was a heavy contact injury. Johnny understands where he’s at. He’s going to keep pushing forward, and there couldn’t be a Bear with a better attitude than him.”
The nature of back injuries means that it is hard to say just where Knox is on a timeline. Still, by signing Erik Weems and Devin Thomas, the Bears have prepared themselves for life without him.