Bears nose tackle Stephen Paea had been having a pretty good camp until Saturday.
That’s when Paea sprained his left ankle in practice, an injury that put him in a walking boot on Sunday and will likely keep him off the field for the next week or two as he recovers. It’s unfortunate timing for Paea, who had taken the starting nose tackle job away from Matt Toeaina since camp opened in late July.
The good news for Paea is that the Bears aren’t going to reopen the competition in his absence. Coach Lovie Smith said that Paea will pick up where he left off when he’s feeling well enough to get back on the field.
“He’s out right now with that ankle sprain, but as far as a setback, no, we’ve seen enough,” Smith said, via the team’s website. “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.”
Paea’s absence should allow the players vying for backup roles a chance to open the eyes of the coaching staff. Brian Price, one of those players, suffered a stinger on Sunday and that won’t help him in the fight with Toeaina, John McCargo and Nate Collins for spots on the final roster.