The Bears have issues at every spot of their offensive line, including two places where they thought they'd be rock solid by now -- right tackle Gabe Carimi and right guard Lance Louis.
Carimi, the Bears' first-round draft pick (29th overall) in 2011, struggled in his return from major knee surgery as a rookie. He lost his starting job after Week 11 but started three games at right guard and another at right tackle in the final six weeks of the season. Either way, it was an unsettling year for Carimi. The question was whether it was because of the injury or because he just wasn't making enough progress against NFL-caliber defensive linemen.
Bears general manager Phil Emery said Carimi's position for the 2013 season is still in question.
Our coaches are going to work through that,'' Emery said when asked what position he saw Carimi playing this season, ''during OTAs, during the winter. Get to know Gabe. Get to know what his strengths and weaknesses are.
''Obviously they've seen some things on tape. I think they see upside to him as a tackle or a guard. So we'll find out through that process and I'm sure that will take all the way through camp to find his exact position.''
The Bears can sell that as a testament to Carmi's new-found versatility. But it's hard to hide it as a disappointment for a former first-round draft pick.
''I do see that he has some flexibility,'' Emery said. ''Gabe had some rough moments. He had some good moments during the year. He had some really good run-blocking moments. He has to improve as a pass blocker. But he had good moments both at guard and at tackle.''
Louis' status could be a key factor in where Carimi winds up. Louis not only is coming off surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee, but he's also a free agent.
Emery said the team is pleased where Louis is with his rehabilitation, though it remains to be seen if he will be 100 percent by training camp. He suffered the injury Nov. 25 against the Vikings.
''We're going to have to work through that [situation],'' Emery said. ''Lance has been very diligent in his rehab and we're pleased with his progress. So at some point, we'll sit down with his agents and work through that.''