CampTour'12: A leaner Gabe Carimi

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Gabe Carimi has displayed a bounce in his step during the early days of Chicago Bears training camp, and it's not simply because he is back and healthy after a knee injury scuttled his rookie season. The right tackle capitalized on his down time during recovery to change his diet and emerged with a noticeably leaner and more athletic-looking frame this summer.

Following a diet designed to increase muscle mass, Carimi has dropped 10 pounds and weighed in here at 308 pounds. He also decreased his body fat from 26 percent to 19 percent.

"It's something I always wanted to do," Carimi said, "but honestly it costs more money in college if you want to do it right, from the amount of meals you have to eat in a day and the amount of protein and calorie intake you have to have. And it can be hard with a full schedule of school, too. So it was a lot easier now. I think I got a good amount accomplished in that area this offseason and I'm already looking forward to what I can do next offseason."

Carimi's daily diet included four meals and two shakes with a goal of consuming between 350 and 400 grams of protein per day. Foods heavy with carbohydrates were limited to post-workout time periods, although Carimi has increased his carb intake at training camp to account for the nearly three hours per day the Bears are spending on the practice field.

Carimi is among a number of NFL players to embrace similar diets, smartly steering clear of traditional thinking that bigger is always better on the offensive line. Right and left tackles are being asked to block speed rushers that weigh anywhere between 240 and 270 pounds and in many cases run the 40-yard dash between 4.5-4.7 seconds.

A lineman that bulks up might have an advantage in the running game, but the increased emphasis on NFL passing has shifted priorities. This spring, as you might recall, we engaged in a similar discussion about USC left tackle Matt Kalil, who weighed in at 306 pounds at the NFL scouting combine and plans to play around 310 pounds for the Minnesota Vikings this season.

Kalil and Carimi have similar 6-foot-7 frames.

"In this line of work," Kalil said at the time, "it's about how strong you are and how good your technique is as much as how much you weigh."