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Paea sidelined with sprained ankle

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 12, 2012 – 5:10 pm

Wearing a walking boot on his left leg, Bears defensive tackle Stephen Paea sat out Sunday’s practice with a sprained ankle he sustained during Saturday’s workout.

“It is what it is,” said the 2011 second-round draft pick from Oregon State. “It’s football. You get hurt and you just have to stay on top of it and come back.”

Having recovered from offseason knee surgery, Paea had been having an excellent training camp, supplanting veteran Matt Toeaina as the starting nose tackle.

“It’s competition every day,” Paea said. “As far as I see it, I’ve got to come back and I’ve got to compete for it again. It [stinks] to go back and start over again, but we’ll see.”

According to coach Lovie Smith, Paea’s injury won’t hurt his chances of starting this season.

“He’s out right now with that ankle sprain, but as far as a setback, no, we’ve seen enough,” Smith said. “We like what he did at the end of the season last year. He’s a good football player. Eventually we’ll get him back out there and he’s going to play good ball for us this year.”

Inactive the first five games of his rookie season in 2011, Paea recorded a safety on his second NFL snap when he sacked Donovan McNabb in the end zone in a win over the Vikings. Paea finished his first season with 18 tackles, two sacks and two tackles-for-loss.


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Healthy knee giving Paea a boost

Posted by Larry Mayer on July 30, 2012 – 3:55 pm

Bears defensive tackle Stephen Paea gained valuable NFL experience last season as a rookie, but that’s not the only reason he feels like a much better player in training camp.

After undergoing offseason surgery on a knee that bothered him all of last season, Paea is finally healthy. He’s now able to push off his leg and utilize his tremendous strength and power.

“The difference is I can hold double teams this year even better than before,” Paea said. “I can take those. Even though I’m only at 285, 290, I can play like I’m 315, holding that double team, and be able to bull rush and be able to change direction during a pass and all that.”

Paea hurt his knee while practicing at the Senior Bowl, but that didn’t deter the Bears from trading up nine spots in the second round of the draft to select the Oregon State product.

Inactive the first five games of the season, Paea recorded a safety on his second NFL snap when he sacked Donovan McNabb in the end zone in a win over the Vikings. Paea finished his rookie season with 18 tackles, two sacks and two tackles-for-loss. But he never felt like completely healthy.

“I just got to rehab my knee almost every week getting ready for practice, and when it came to game time I was tired from practice,” Paea said. “But this year there shouldn’t be any excuses. I can do everything now. So let’s just say it’s 100 percent right now. I’m feeling pretty good about it, very confident, and just can’t wait to go.”


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