Sunday, May 1, 2011
Posted: 10:27 a.m.
By John Mullin
The first thing that strikes you about Gabe Carimi, after his sheer mass at 6-7, 315 pounds, is the attitude.
Not the ever-popular, ever-clichd mean streak." If you dont have at least a level of mean streak, youre not in the NFL; if you have too much mean streak, youre getting too many 15-yard penalties and youre headed for MMA.
But with Carimi its the attitude that actually matters and one that not every player has. And if they dont, they will only be so good.
There are only two options, Carimi said Saturday. You never can stay consistent. Improvement is the only way to go. I have a hunger to try to succeed at whatever I do. Thats the objective: to be the best Bear offensive lineman I can be.
Not everyone walks into Halas Hall with that attitude. For some, being a high draft choice is the accomplishment. For Carimi, its a dare.
WATCH: Bears' Carimi gets first look at Halas Hall
And he put that on himself when he declared at the NFL Scouting Combine that he was the best of a good tackle crop in this draft. Indeed, he doesnt quite get why someone wouldnt feel that way.
What am I going to say? That I dont think Im the best tackle or going to be the best tackle? Carimi wondered. But I am more than happy. This is exactly where I wanted to be, to be honest with you. If you ask any of my close friends, I told them, when they asked me, Where do you fit best in, or where do you think you want to go, I told them that I wanted to be a Bear.
The right guy
Every personnel executive after every draft pick declares that the particular pick was precisely the guy they wanted. In the case of the Bears and Carimi, that in fact was the case.
The Bears wouldve been delighted with Tyron Smith from USC (to Dallas No. 9), Nate Solder from Colorado (to New England No. 17), Anthony Castonzo from Boston College (to Indianapolis No. 22) and Carimi. What they got with Carimi was a four-starter with a top Big Ten program with a history of producing solid linemen.
Hes been an outstanding player at Wisconsin for four years, said offensive line coach Mike Tice. Hes gotten better every year. Hes gotten tougher every year too.
Were trying to get bigger. Film doesnt lie. Hell bring everything that were looking to bring to the offensive line room: toughness, intelligence, size. Hes a solid athlete, maybe not a great athlete, but a solid athlete.
Creatively keeping the faith
Carimi is Jewish, which raises the question of whether he can or will play on the Jewish holidays. Sandy Koufax did not pitch a World Series game because it fell on the high holy days.
Carimi played last season against Arizona State after fasting based on observing Yom Kippur on Israeli time. He fasted and then received an IV to speed up recovery of nourishment.
And just to be sure, Carimi checked calendars and found Yom Kippur falling on no projected game day for more than a decade.
Yeah, thats what I did this year, Carimi said. It was Yom Yippur this year. Basically what I did was go off Israeli time. Fast at 12 oclock and then had like three hours to IV-up and eat.
I didnt feel any different. Ive already looked out 15 years from now and it doesnt happen on Sunday.
To his credit, Carimi also has adjusted a core belief system as far as his fan allegiance, which was to the Green Bay Packers because of his Wisconsin roots.
I was a Packers fan growing up, but Ive had my errors in my way, Carimi deadpanned. Ive sinned and repented, so Im good now. Ive seen the light.
Now, if he can see the 30-some pass protections of Tice and the Bears offense just as clearly, the Bears will have something.
John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.