Greg Schiano won't know exactly what he and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers have in their newest player – third-year offensive lineman Gabe Carimi – for at least a few more days, and maybe not until training camp. Still, Schiano's first impression of Carimi was good, and so was his second impression.
First came a simple face-to-face meeting on Monday evening, after the trade that brought the former first-round pick over from the Chicago Bears was finalized. Schiano gathered that Carimi was passionate about football, which is very big in the coach's book. The second impression came Tuesday morning, on the first day of the Buccaneers' offseason-ending mandatory mini-camp.
There, Carimi did what he could with what little of the playbook he had down at that point, and did it in a way that pleased Schiano.
"First impressions are important," said Schiano. "I watched him practice today and I liked the way he worked. He's a big, physically-imposing guy. He fits what we do. He's going to help us run the football, he's going to help protect the passer. He's serious about football. When you love it and you got those tangibles, it's a good start."
Carimi certainly passes the eyeball test, a huge 6-7 man who looks as if he would be a road-grader in the rushing attack. He didn't appear to be held back by the 2011 knee injury that slowed him down to some extent last year in his first full NFL season, and indeed he said after the workout that he felt fine in that regard. He didn't speak at length about the very sudden turn in his NFL career, but he seemed to feel that Tampa was a good place to find a new start.
"I just think it's a good opportunity here," said Carimi. "We've got good players here and I just look forward to going in there and competing."
Again, there was little preparation time for Carimi's first Buc practice, so the fact that he worked exclusively at right tackle shouldn't be given too much significance. That is the position that he spent most of his time in Chicago at, and he was an award-winning tackle in college at Wisconsin, but the Buccaneers also like the potential multi-positional help Carimi could bring to their line.
"I think he does bring position flexibility," said Schiano. You let all that stuff work it out. They go play football and you figure out where it all fits together. The offensive line, your goal is to get the best five football players on the field. Sometimes you don't have your best five out there, when [one] can't play in the tackle position. Carimi can. Now it's just a matter of finding the best five combination, that's what we have preseason for."
As to Carimi's preference for where the Buccaneers eventually slot him, he simply suggested, "Wherever they want me."
Carimi's first day on the job was made easier, as will be his gradual assimilation, by the fact that he didn't have to figure out the rhythms and whims of his new position coach. That's because Bucs' Offensive Line Coach Bob Bostad is also Carimi's old coach, the one that helped him develop into the Outland Trophy winner as a senior at Wisconsin.
"I'm glad to be here with my old coach, and now I'm just looking forward to playing with the Bucs," said Carimi. "[I like] his attention to detail and the amount of work he demands of the players. He demands a lot…just hard work and bring it every day."