LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- While the play of Chicago Bears left tackle J'Marcus Webb appears to have improved in recent weeks, former first-round pick Gabe Carimi has endured his share of struggles on the other side of the offensive line at right tackle.
Still relatively new on the job with only eight career starts after a knee injury wiped out the bulk of his rookie year, Carimi has been whistled for five penalties over the past two games, including a pair of holding calls in the Bears' 13-7 victory over the Detroit Lions on Monday night.
Carimi underwent multiple procedures to correct the problems in his knee last year but returned to the field in time for the club's offseason minicamp. The Bears monitored Carimi's reps in training camp, but he's started all six games in 2012 and never appears on the team's weekly injury report.
Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice said on Wednesday he believes Carimi's issues are caused by the right tackle's overly aggressive style of play.
"Here's the thing with Gabe and Gabe knows this so I'm not speaking out of turn: Gabe plays really hard," Tice said. "I told you guys when we moved to the right side that Gabe, not to insult him, is not the type of athlete I see that should be on the left side. When Gabe's plays are ugly, they're ugly because of that reason. He wants to kill guys. I told him today that there were a number of plays in the game when I stopped the tape and the guy moved out of the way he would have fell on his face because he gets himself so overextended over his feet because he tries to knock guys out.
"On the hold call, on the down block, he was going to murder that guy, not literally, and now he's got his head over here and his feet over here it's like the "Wizard of Oz," like the scarecrow, right ... his head is over here his feet are over here. The guy just does a little move and he's on his face. So he grabs the guy and gets a holding call. He gets himself out of whack because he's being a bit overly aggressive. So we're going to settle him down and make sure he brings his feet with him on some of these blocks where it does get ugly or he's getting those penalties."
Carimi entered the league with the reputation as a skilled run blocker when the Bears selected him at No. 29 overall in the 2011 NFL draft after he won the Outland Trophy as a senior at Wisconsin, an award given annually to the nation's top offensive linemen. A left tackle in college, Carimi has played exclusively on the right side under Tice.
"I just got to calm down a couple things, a couple penalties here and there," Carimi said. "It's just my style of play. I'm a very aggressive player. I'm overaggressive, but I do a lot of good things when I'm overaggressive too. Sometimes I just need to bring it back a little bit."
Bears starting right guard Chilo Rachal can empathize with Carimi. Rachal said his ultra-aggressive brand of football hurt him earlier in his NFL career with the San Francisco 49ers where he started 38 games over four seasons before catching on with the Bears back in April. Rachal started the season as a backup but soon replaced Chris Spencer in the starting lineup after Week 2.
"I think that was one of my problems early in my career, just trying to go for that knockout shot every time, and it was getting me overextended and off balance and stuff," Rachal said. "It's just picking your times and spots for when to do it. It's just getting experience and getting your technique down and controlling that nastiness you want to unload on people. It's about controlling it."