Stephen Paea pushing for starting NT job with Cowboys

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Stephen Paea was miscast in a 3-4 defense the past two seasons. He’s back at a familiar spot with the Cowboys, reunited with defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli and playing the nose in the Tampa 2.

Just be aggressive in there,” Paea said, via Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “A lot of guys they think of a nose tackle, they’re just there playing with your hands and just playing the run, but Rod just wants more out of the nose tackle. If you don’t pass rush as a nose, then you’re not doing your job, so that’s what he wants from the nose tackle.”

The Cowboys’ biggest offseason signing in 2016 was Cedric Thornton, who left Philadelphia for Dallas’ four-year, $18 million offer. He started no games, played in 13, had 18 tackles, 1.5 sacks and nine quarterback pressures last season.

Terrell McClain started 15 games at the nose last season, and after he left in free agency, the Cowboys signed Paea, who played for Marinelli in Chicago after the Bears made him a second-round pick in 2011.

Paea missed the team’s preseason game against the Rams last week with a sore knee but will play Saturday against the Colts, and with Thornton dealing with a hamstring injury, Paea has taken first-team reps.

“We all have that next-man mentality,” Paea said. “I’m out here just taking advantage of all opportunity for me to compete out here.

“Going out here against the best offensive line in the NFL is a great opportunity for me to get better — make Sunday a little easier for me.”

4 responses to “Stephen Paea pushing for starting NT job with Cowboys

  1. He wasn’t miscast for the Redskins, he just didn’t stay healthy and they cut him for cap reasons. He and Baker were competing for the same spot and Baker beat him out to be the 3-technique in the Redskins 1-gap 3-4 defense. Some people think the Redskins should have tried Paea out at NT in our one-gap 3-4 scheme because the NT in our scheme just plays one gap. A bears fan one time pointed out to me that when Paea was in Chicago he played NT more than 3-technique.

    I always thought the Redskins should have started Baker and Paea together, with one of them playing the 3-technique position in our defense and the other one playing the 1-gap NT position. If the Redskins has done that the last two years I think their DL and overall defense would have been better.

  2. I couldn’t disagree more with the other posts here. I follow the Bears religiously and I cannot believe this guy is still in the league. He wasn’t horrible, but he was completely forgettable. Undersized and not dominant at all…unless we’re talking about the bench-press.

    I think some of these coaches fall in love with players and subjectively decide that they’re good. They then decide that they must have them on their teams, simply because they’re familiar with them. It’s nothing more than a ‘devil you know’ scenario.

    All of this to say, if Stephan Paea is starting on your D-line in 2017-18, you’re screwed. I’m so happy to have Hicks, Goldman, Bullard (who has looked fantastic thus far), Howard et al. with Vic Fangio at the helm. Bear Down.

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