Is Gabe Carimi getting any better?
The former first-round draft pick who missed most of last season with a knee injury is leading the team with eight penalties, including two holding calls against the Lions on Monday night.
It's always difficult for us laymen to judge offensive linemen, but especially in Carimi's case. For one thing, what's the measuring stick? Should the expectations be high because he's a first-round draft pick? Or should they be low because he missed most of last season with a knee injury?
Asked to evaluate Carimi's performance this season, Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice used 271 words to say five: ''He's a work-in-progress.''
''I told you when we moved Gabe 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.
''And, he wants to kill guys. He gets himself so overextended over his feet because he's trying to knock guys out, that the second move -- on the [first] holding call, on the down block -- he was going to murder that guy.
''He gets himself out of whack because he's being a little overly aggressive. So, we're going to settle him down, make sure he brings his feet with him on some of these blocks where it does look ugly or he's getting those penalties. But he plays extremely hard. They're all playing hard right now, but he plays very hard. But his ugly plays are ugly.''
For what it's worth, Carimi's second holding call, which wiped out a 15-yard scramble by Jay Cutler to the Lions' 10-yard line, was bogus. Lions defensive end Willie Young jumped the snap and was offsides and Carimi was called for holding Young. That doesn't make sense that Young can entice Carimi to hold him by breaking the rules himself. If an offensive lineman jumps and entices a defensive lineman to cross the line of scrimmage, those aren't offsetting penalties. (One Bears lineman I talked to today told me the holding call on Carimi was bogus even without Young jumping the snap).
Whatever. Carimi said Wednesday he's paying the price for being an aggressive player. One he figures out where the line is, he'll be able to avoid the penalties that are casting the spotlight on him.
''I'm overaggressive, but I do a lot of good things when I'm overagressive, too,'' Carimi said. ''There are some times I need to just bring it back a little bit.
''I'm feeling pretty comfortable right now. There's just a couple of things I have to take care of, mostly with the penalties - that's what you guys see - so take those away, and guys don't hear my name.''