Carimi is absent from OTAs that started this week, and is in danger of being buried on the depth chart behind other offensive linemen who are learning a new offense under new coach Marc Trestman and new coordinator Aaron Kromer.
"We're all getting used to the new coaches and the new offense," said center Roberto Garza, who could be the only Bears offensive lineman starting the 2013 opener at the same position as he did last season. "Obviously it's important to be here and get a feel for the way we're doing things and practice mode and learning techniques and the offense."
The Bears have increased the competition level all along the offensive line, which has been ineffective for most of the past three seasons. They added unrestricted free agent Jermon Bushrod at left tackle and Matt Slauson at left guard earlier, and they drafted guard Kyle Long in the first round and tackle Jordan Mills in the fifth round.
During Tuesday's OTA at Halas Hall, James Brown lined up with the first team at right guard, where Carimi started three late-season games in 2012 after playing himself out of the right tackle job. Brown, an undrafted rookie last year, started the final three 2012 games at left guard.
Long took almost all his snaps at right guard during last weekend's rookie minicamp, and he's expected to be the opening-day starter there. Carimi is expected to compete for the right guard job in training camp - if he's still a Bear.
Slauson was at left guard with the first team Tuesday, while Bushrod and J'Marcus Webb were at left and right tackle, respectively. Webb is expected to battle Jonathan Scott for the starting job.
Carimi is working out on his own in Arizona, and he informed the Bears of that intention sometime after the last time he was at Halas Hall, on April 18, the final day of the voluntary minicamp.
Bears general manager Phil Emery said on SiriusXM radio, "This is a voluntary situation and every player has to make his own decisions. Gabe has made a decision that he wants to stay in Arizona and train, and we respect that. And he'll be welcomed with open arms when he comes back."
"I know Gabe's working out hard and getting his body ready to compete and put himself in a situation to make this team," Garza said. "It's all about putting yourself in the best situation physically and mentally. I can't speak for him, but I'm sure he's working hard and getting ready."
The 10 OTA practices are technically voluntary under the collective bargaining agreement. But players hoping for a future with their current team, especially when that team has a new coaching staff implementing a new scheme, almost always have perfect attendance at "voluntary" functions.
The Bears' final minicamp, June 11-13, is mandatory.
If he stays away until then, Carimi would have a difficult time catching up to the competition.
"That's going to be tough," running back Matt Forte said. "I don't play his position, but I think it's probably pretty important to be here right now just with all the new faces around and the new offense especially. In the meetings, we're not going over the same stuff. We're going over new stuff every day. (It's important) just to be exposed to new stuff and get ready for training camp."
Carimi is entering the third year of his four-year, $7.06 million rookie contract, which included a $3.63 million signing bonus. His base pay for 2013 would be $1.02 million. In 2014, his base pay would be $645,000 plus $692,000 in roster and workout bonuses.
After he was selected 29th overall out of Wisconsin, Carimi quickly earned the starting job at right tackle but suffered a knee injury in the first half of his second regular-season game. After multiple surgeries, the 6-7, 316-pounder returned last season and started the first 10 games at right tackle before he was benched in favor of Scott. Carimi was reinserted into the starting lineup at right guard when Lance Louis suffered a season-ending knee injury. He moved back to right tackle for Game 15, when Scott was out with a hamstring injury, but Carimi was benched again when Scott returned for the final game.
--In his one season of major-college football, Bears first-round pick Kyle Long started his only five games at left guard. But he lined up exclusively at right guard during the weekend's rookie minicamp practice inside the Walter Payton Center.
The adjustment isn't a problem, according to the middle son of NFL Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long.
"My hand's still on the ground, and I'm still supposed to block somebody," Long said. "It's just a different side."
After Sunday's final practice, Long won't be back with the Bears until training camp begins in late July. Because of an NFL rule that prohibits a rookie from practicing with his pro team before his school's final exams have been completed, Long will miss all the OTAs (May 13-June 6), and the full-team minicamp (June 11-13). Oregon's finals aren't completed until June 14.
"It's frustrating," Long said. "But due to the quarter system, like a lot of Pac-12 guys, I'm going to have to wait.
"Obviously I'm behind the eight-ball a little bit. But I'll have the (playbook) installations ahead of time. It's kind of like if you're missing a week of school (because) you're sick and you want to get the lesson plan from your teacher ahead of time. That's kind of how I'm treating this."
Bears coach Marc Trestman doesn't consider the situation an insurmountable obstacle for Long, who is expected to contend for a starting job as a rookie.
"We've got a lot of different ways of communicating with him," Trestman said. "We can show tape to him and sit in a meeting with him and watch tape with him right on a computer."
Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer, a long-time NFL offensive line coach, will be in communication with Long after the staff makes assessments following their review of film from this weekend's work.
"Kyle is a very smart guy," Trestman said. "We know he's going to dig in and do everything he can to get himself ready -- not just physically, but mentally. It's a minimal obstacle and nothing we can't handle. The opportunity to embrace it and get it done is something we're up to, or we wouldn't have made the pick."
The Bears reached agreement with Long on a four-year contract, the club announced Friday night. The deal will include a team option for a fifth year.
In his only two seasons as a college linebacker, Khaseem Greene either won or shared the Big East defensive player of the year award.
The Bears' fourth-round draft pick also forced an NCAA-record 15 fumbles in his four years at Rutgers, where he started out as a safety but grew into a linebacker.
"My first year I played at 210, then I was 215 and the next thing I know I was 225," Greene said. "I got into that college weight room and … it wasn't bad weight, I was just (getting) big, and coach (Greg) Schiano told me the bigger I got the closer I'd get to the ball. We needed more speed at the linebacker position, and he saw it, and boom, he switched me."
And boom, the Rutgers defense got a lot better with Greene putting up some impressive numbers. It wasn't just because of Greene, but in his first season as a linebacker, he contributed 141 tackles, 10th in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision, and the Scarlet Knights were No. 8 in scoring defense and No. 9 in pass defense. They had ranked No. 62 in scoring defense and No. 55 in pass defense a year earlier.
Last season, Rutgers was No. 6 in run defense, No. 10 in total defense and No. 4 in scoring defense. Greene led the Big East with 136 tackles, just the sixth player to lead the conference in back-to-back seasons.
Greene's switch from safety to linebacker helped the Scarlet Knights' defense improve, but the move also benefited the player.
"The main thing it's done for me is help me become a better coverage linebacker and also gave me speed, so that my reaction time was a little bit quicker," Greene said.
But there are still linebacker techniques Greene is working to perfect.
"I just have to get used to playing more with my pad level down, and I'm working on that with (linebackers) coach Tibbs (Tim Tibesar) and (defensive quality control) coach (Sean) Desai," Greene said. "Those guys are doing a good job of coaching it up. At safety, you're so used to everything coming to you and having time to do things. As a linebacker, it's see it, react, go."
In addition to his record 15 forced fumbles at Rutgers, Greene had 11.5 sacks, 35 quarterback pressures and seven interceptions.
Like Bears Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Tillman, Greene has a knack for separating opposing running backs and receivers from the ball. Tillman tied an NFL record last season with 10 forced fumbles and has 39 in his 10-year career.
"He's the master at it," Greene said. "I have to try to catch up, and that's not going to be an easy task. But he's a great guy to learn from. (You're) talking about somebody who changes the game in one play. It's going to be fun to learn and try to take after him when it comes to causing turnovers."
Like Tillman, Greene practices the art of the forced fumble.
"It's just become second nature, when you're so used to doing it," he said. "We used to train at practice, we would do ball disruption circuits, just strip it, punch it. When you make that second nature, it just happens naturally. I think a lot of the times I just do it without thinking. I see an opportunity and go do it."
Considering he's never taken a regular-season snap and has thrown just 16 passes in preseason games, No. 3 quarterback Matt Blanchard remains a mystery for the most part.
But, from what coach Marc Trestman and his staff have seen so far, the Lake Zurich High School graduate remains in the Bears' plans. Because he was a practice-squad player last season, Blanchard was eligible to participate in last weekend's rookie minicamp, and he got extensive reps.
"He's articulate in the verbiage of our offense," Trestman said. "He's picked it up very quickly. The reps have really helped him. He's got very good fundamentals. He needs to improve like every quarterback does, (but) he has a good base.
"The ball easily comes out of his hand, as you can see. When he's over the top on his throws, it's a very natural throwing motion. It comes off his hand very easily and very naturally and he's got some mobility."
That doesn't mean, however, that Blanchard, who was undrafted out of Wisconsin-Whitewater last year, has locked up a spot on the 53-man roster.
"He's got a long way to go," Trestman said. "We were in shorts (during the minicamp). I think we'll see a little bit more out of him when we get into (training) camp and get some pads on him. When we get into the preseason games we'll see a little more about what he has."
In addition to doing film work and learning to break down opposing defenses and recognize coverages last year and in the current offseason, Blanchard says he's benefited from being in the presence of veteran quarterbacks Jay Cutler and Josh McCown.
"As a third quarterback, your goal is to be an observer and watch the head guy and see what he does," Blanchard said. "Jay's been a great role model to me; same with Josh. I've watched those guys. They're two solid veterans who have had a lot of success in the NFL, so it's just studying them and watching how they carry themselves and how to be a pro."
General manager Phil Emery reiterated it's highly that middle linebacker Brian Urlacher will re-sign with the Bears. Urlacher remains unsigned after becoming an unrestricted free agent on March 12.
Emery told SiriusXM Radio, "Brian was a great player and still is a great player. I have the utmost respect for Brian. As I've told people before, I've got far too many gray hairs to never say never. But obviously we've made an investment in terms of bringing a couple of key veterans in and drafting a couple rookies. So I would say that that is less likely to happen than more likely."
Wide receiver Marquess Wilson doesn't look like a lowly seventh-round pick.
Nothing against seventh-round picks, but Wilson is tall, fast and fluid, exhibits soft hands, excellent agility and the timing and leaping ability to win jump balls.
As a true freshman at Washington State in 2010 he caught 55 passes for 1,006 yards and followed that up the next year by setting school records with 82 receptions for 1,388 yards. Last season, after nine games, he was leading the team with 52 catches and 813 yards when he quit after feuding with coach Mike Leach and his staff over playing time following a one-game suspension.
Mostly because of that, the 6-3 Wilson dropped to the final round despite running a 4.51 40 at the Combine.
"The way I looked at it, I was just happy I got drafted," Wilson said. "I was just happy that I got a second opportunity, another chance to play football again."
Wilson had to explain his situation to the Bears before the draft, saying, "It was just a mistake on my part in the way I handled everything, and I'm not going to do that. I'm not going to harm this franchise. (I had to) try to get their trust, tell them what I did and what happened and just tell them the truth."
Wilson had a season of college eligibility left, but he would have had to sit out a full year if he transferred to another Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) school. He opted for the draft instead.
"I always figured if I worked hard I could be in the NFL," he said. "I have the opportunity, and I'm going to take full advantage of it. That was my mindset: to get to the NFL because I knew what I was capable of doing, and I just had that confidence that I could someday make it."
To do that, the spindly, 184-pound Wilson needs to get bigger and stronger. He did just seven reps of 225 pounds in the bench press at the Combine and, looking at his thin frame, it's hard to believe he did even that many. In his defense, he's the youngest player at the rookie minicamp.
"He's just 20 years old," coach Marc Trestman said. "He's got a lot of growing to do, and being around here and involved in our weight program over the next few months is certainly going to help him. He's going to get stronger."
One of the things the Bears liked about second-round pick Jon Bostic was the middle linebacker's ability to get everyone on the Florida defense lined up in the right spot. And he demonstrated that ability during the weekend rookie minicamp.
"He's a smart guy," defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said. "He's a take-control guy. He's very comfortable making the calls and controlling the huddle."
Although all 31 of his starts over the past three years at Florida were at middle linebacker, the Bears believe Bostic can play any of the three linebacker positions.
"The height, weight and speed obviously are there," Tucker said. "He's instinctive. He has command of the defense. He's vocal. He can run, change direction, (has) athletic ability, and he's physical. Those are all things you look for in a linebacker."
Even though Michael Ford was LSU's leading rusher in 2011 and averaged 5.7 yards per carry for his career, he went undrafted, partly because he started just five games while lost in the shuffle of a talented stable of runners.
The 5-10, 210-pounder also averaged 27.5 yards on 20 kickoff returns last season, and the Bears jumped at the chance to sign him after the draft.
"He was one of those guys that we targeted and we're glad to have him," special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis said. "He's going to really bring some competition to that (kickoff-return) position.
"He's a straight-line guy that's got great balance; hard to knock off his feet. When you put up the kind of stats he did in the SEC, you've got some talent; and he's got some toughness, too."
Ford ran a 4.46 40 at the Scouting Combine, benched 225 pounds 25 times and had a 38 1/2-inch vertical.
"Brandon (Marshall) had a lot of catches and everybody else really didn't have a whole lot. We were kind of one-dimensional last year. It's going to be an emphasis for us this year to spread the ball around, so it's balanced, and the defense can't just focus on one guy or one position."—RB Matt Forte, who had a career-low 44 receptions last season. Marshall had 118 catches.
A closer look at the Bears' picks:
Round 1/20 - Kyle Long, OG, 6-6, 313, Oregon
Developmental project who started just four games in FBS program and played in just 11. Former baseball pitcher who was drafted in the 23rd round out of high school by the White Sox. Started collegiate career as a pitcher on a baseball scholarship at Florida State but flunked out. Transferred to Saddleback JC, where he played defensive end in 2010 and moved to tackle in 2011. Father is Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long; brother is Rams defensive end Chris Long. Excellent athlete for the position. Ran a 4.94 40 at the Combine, best among all guards and 15.8 percent body fat was best among all linemen. Will be 25 in December.
Round 2/50 - Jonathan Bostic, LB, 6-1, 245, Florida
Bears believe he has the versatility to play all three linebacker positions. Started Gators career on the weak side but made all 32 of his starts at middle linebacker. Above-average agility and speed. Ran 4.61 40-yard dash and 4.24 20-yard shuttle. Plays with more finesse than brute strength and is more flashy than consistent. Father, Jon Bostic, was a defensive back for the Lions from 1985-87.
Round 4/117 - Khaseem Greene, LB, 6-1, 241, Rutgers
Big East defensive player of the year in 2012 and shared the award in 2011. Began Scarlet Knights career as a free safety and led the team with three interceptions in 2010, starting all 12 games. Converted to weak-side linebacker and had 141 tackles in '11 and 136 hits last season. Managed 26.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks in two seasons at linebacker. Had NCAA career-record 15 forced fumbles. Brother Ray is a running back at Pitt.
Round 5/163 - Jordan Mills, T, 6-5, 316, Louisiana Tech
Started 34 games, including all of the final 25 in his last two seasons. Started 29 games at right tackle and five at left guard. Hard worker with good mental approach and nice physical traits but needs to refine his technique and did not face top-level competition. Cousin is Packers cornerback Tramon Williams.
Round 6/188 - Cornelius Washington, DE, 6-4, 265, Georgia
Could be a huge bargain if he plays up to his potential, which he has done only in short bursts in the past. Seems to be better suited as a 3-4 outside linebacker, but will be a defensive end in the Bears' 4-3. Country strong, powerful and explosive. Ran a 4.56 40, had a 39-inch vertical at the Combine and bench-pressed 225 pounds 36 times. Has maxed 500 on the bench. Lacks instincts and doesn't play as well as he works out; had just 10.5 career sacks. Takes downs off, and competitiveness and coachability have been questioned. Can win with physical play as a run defender and pass rusher.
Round 7/236 - Marquess Wilson, WR, 6-3, 194, Washington State
Had a year of eligibility remaining. Has major character concerns. Was suspended from team last season after nine games and then quit. Was not allowed back on campus for Pro Day. Still led the team in receiving with 52 catches for 813 yards (15.6-yard average). In 2011, as a sophomore, set school records with 83 receptions and 1,388 yards, averaging 16.9 yards per catch and scoring 12 touchdowns. Has average speed but good agility. Despite a lack of strength (just seven reps of 225 on the bench), will catch over the middle.
DT Henry Melton (tendered at $8.45 million; signed tender March 12).
RB Kahlil Bell was cut but then re-signed after Michael Bush was injured late in the season. He has some value, but only as a No. 3, and he has had fumbling issues in the past.
DE Israel Idonije lost his starting job to Corey Wootton midway through the season but still played extensively in a rotation that utilized four players. He also adds great value because of his versatility, having played inside in the past, where he provides decent pass rush.
PK Olindo Mare won't be back. He was a late-season fill-in for Robbie Gould, who is recovered from a sprained knee.
S Troy Nolan could be a factor on special teams but not much more.
DT Amobi Okoye wasn't much more than a warm body last season, but he's still only 26, so he could figure as a backup.
LB Brian Urlacher has been the face of the franchise for a decade, but the team announced March 20 he won't be re-signed.
G Kyle Long (1/20): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
LB Jonathan Bostic (2/50): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
LB Khaseem Greene (4/117); 4 yrs, terms unknown.
T Jordan Mills (5/163): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
DE Cornelius Washington (6/188): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
WR Marquess Wilson (7/236): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
RB Armando Allen: ERFA; terms unknown.
CB Zack Bowman: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
DT Nate Collins: Not tendered as RFA; $630,000/1 yr.
CB Kelvin Hayden: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
QB Josh McCown: UFA; $865,000/1 yr, $25,000 SB/$125,000 guaranteed.
DT Henry Melton: FFA; $8.45M/1 yr.
T Jonathan Scott: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
LB James Anderson: FA Panthers; 1 yr, terms unknown.
TE Martellus Bennett: UFA Giants; $20M/4 yrs, $4.5M SB/$9M guaranteed.
G Eben Britton: UFA Jaguars; 1 yr, terms unknown.
T Jermon Bushrod: UFA Saints; $36M/5 yrs, $11M SB/$17.715M guaranteed.
TE Brody Eldridge: FA; terms unknown.
DT Andre Fluellen: UFA Lions; 1 yr, terms unknown.
DT Corvey Irvin: FA Buccaneers; terms unknown.
TE Steve Maneri: Not tendered as ERFA by Chiefs; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
DE Turk McBride: UFA Saints; 1 yr, terms unknown.
DE Kyle Moore: UFA Bills; 1 yr, terms unknown.
G Matt Slauson: UFA Jets; $815,000/1 yr, $100,000 SB/$200,000 guaranteed.
LB D.J. Williams: FA Broncos; $1.75M/1 yr.
S Tom Zbikowski: FA Colts; 1 yr, terms unknown.
QB Jason Campbell: UFA Browns; $4.25M/2 yrs, $500,000 guaranteed.
TE Kellen Davis (released).
LB Dom DeCicco (released).
LB Geno Hayes: UFA Jaguars; $2M/2 yrs.
WR Johnny Knox (released/failed physical; subsequently retired).
G Lance Louis: UFA Dolphins; $1.603M/1 yr, $100,000 guaranteed.
CB D.J. Moore: UFA Panthers; 1 yr, terms unknown.
G Chilo Rachal: UFA Cardinals; 1 yr, terms unknown.
LB Nick Roach: UFA Raiders; $13M/4 yrs, $5M guaranteed.
TE Matt Spaeth (released).
C/G Chris Spencer: UFA Titans; 1 yr, terms unknown.
DT Matt Toeaina (released).