Defensive tackle Stephen Paea was finally back in a helmet on Monday after missing the past two games with a toe injury. The last time he was on the field was in Detroit on Sept. 29 when he started as the three-technique in the Bears’ loss to the Lions in which Reggie Bush led a 159-yard gashing of the Bears’ run defense.
That won’t happen again, Paea is certain.
In Paea’s absence, defensive end Corey Wootton has shuttled inside at the three-technique, and the expectation is that Paea, who had been the Bears’ most productive defensive lineman, will move back to nose tackle where he arguably had greater success than in his one-game foray at three-technique.
“When I come back, I’m playing nose or three,” Paea said on Monday. “Whatever coach has me doing, I’ll just deal with it. So Corey’s doing a great job in it.
“Me and him inside, we’ll be unstoppable.”
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That would mark a change of sorts. The Bears rank a respectable 12th giving up 102 rush yards per game, virtually the same as last season’s final average. But Bush (139 yards) and Brandon Jacobs (106) for the New York Giants have run amok on them over the span of the last three games.
“Every game we’re going in, the first thing we’ve got to do is stop the run, make them throw the ball, and then we get to the quarterback,” Paea said. “That’s when you start winning games. Stopping the run is all about discipline and every man on defense getting a gap, linebackers, corners and safeties making the tackles, and then we go from there.”