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Bears OL Carimi still settling in to NFL

Associated Press Modified: October 9, 2012 at 4:32 pm •  Published: October 9, 2012

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — No matter how much time he missed a year ago, Chicago Bears right tackle Gabe Carimi insists he doesn't feel like a rookie anymore.

Carimi said he feels he has adjusted to life in the NFL even if he is still experiencing the occasional growing pain on the field after missing most of last year because of a knee injury. He had a few against Jacksonville last week in a 41-3 romp, tempering what he believes was an otherwise solid performance.

Carimi got flagged for holding in the first half and had a particularly rough time on the opening drive of the third quarter, giving up the lone sack against Jay Cutler and committing false starts on back-to-back plays after Chicago drove to the 3. That led to a field goal by Robbie Gould rather than a touchdown to break a 3-3 tie on a drive that ate up more than 9 minutes.

Even if they beat up one of the weakest teams, it was still an impressive performance.

The Bears got interception returns for touchdowns by Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs, the first time in league history two teammates have done that in consecutive weeks, and did their part on offense with 501 yards on 73 plays — their highest total since they had 542 at Detroit on Sept. 24, 1989.

Cutler threw for 292 yards. Brandon Marshall had 144 yards receiving and Matt Forte ran for 107, making them the first Chicago teammates with 100 yards receiving and 100 rushing in a game since Muhsin Muhammad and Thomas Jones did it against the New York Giants at the Meadowlands in 2006.

"We talked about it as an important game for is to execute our system and do a lot of the things we've been working on since OTA days," offensive coordinator Mike Tice said. "I thought the quarterback was outstanding on the line of scrimmage, getting us to the plays we wanted to. I feel like the line had their best game and probably the most physical since I've been here in three years."

It was a big step for a unit that ranked among the league's worst the past few years. Tice was widely credited for getting the most out of that undermanned group as the line coach before being promoted to replace Mike Martz as the offensive coordinator in the offseason.

After some early struggles, the line has held up better in recent weeks.

Left tackle J'Marcus Webb's problems protecting the quarterback in the early going were well documented. But Carimi has had some issues, too.

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