Gabe Carimi's decision to skip the Bears' offseason training activities thus far had led to rampant speculation that the 2011 first-round pick's time in Chicago may be winding down.
But Bears general manager Phil Emery said the team would welcome him back with "open arms" during an interview with Alex Marvez and Gil Brandt on SiriusXM NFL Radio late Wednesday.
"This is a voluntary situation and every player has to make his own decisions," Emery said. "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."
Carimi has been training in Arizona for the bulk of the offseason, but did participate in the Bears' voluntary minicamp in April. He said then that his primary focus is getting his leg back to 100 percent after being hobbled last season and sitting out most of his rookie year.
Carimi was the Bears' starting right tackle for the first 10 games of last season before being replaced by veteran Jonathan Scott. Injuries led to Carimi getting three starts at right guard, and he performed well.
But despite all the playing time, Carimi was never healthy last season after dislocating his right knee cap in Week 2 of the 2011 season and needing multiple surgeries.
Bears coach Marc Trestman acknowledged during voluntary minicamp that Carimi wasn't healthy last season and was looking forward to him competing at guard -- where Trestman felt Carimi was a better fit.
The Bears, though, did draft guard Kyle Long in the first round this year, while signing veteran guard Matt Slauson (a three-year starter at left guard for the New York Jets) to a one-year deal.
Carimi's absence was the main subject of the Bears' OTAs on Tuesday, which was open to the media. Carimi was the only notable absence that day.
"I don't play that position, but I think it's pretty important to be here right now with all the new faces around and the new offense," said running back Matt Forte, who skipped out on OTAs last year because of his contract negotiations. "In the meetings, we're not going over the same stuff. We're going over new stuff every day.
"Gabe is very intelligent. Don't get me wrong. He could come in and learn the playbook during camp and be good then. He knows himself better than anybody else does. He knows what he needs to get better at."
Added center Roberto Garza: "I know Gabe's working out hard and getting his body ready to compete and putting himself in a situation to make this team. It's all about putting yourself in the best situation physically and mentally. I can't speak for him. I'm sure he's working hard and getting better."