- Jeff Dickerson, ESPN Staff Writer
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Chicago Bears defensive tackle Stephen Paea is optimistic he can return to the practice field by the end of the week and believes he can be ready to play in the club’s preseason finale against the Cleveland Browns on Aug. 30.
Paea suffered a sprained ankle at practice 10 days ago and has been sidelined ever since. The Bears travel to the New York area to face the Giants on Friday night and then are scheduled to be back on the Halas Hall practice field on Sunday to begin preparations for the preseason finale against the Browns.
“Rehab is good,” Paea said Monday. “Right now I’m feeling around 75 to 80 percent so I’m guessing another week will help. By the time the Cleveland Browns game (rolls around) I’m pretty sure I’ll suit up for the game.
“I’m guessing right after the Giants game (I can return to practice). I just follow the instructions the trainers give me and we go from there.”
Before he got hurt, Paea put together an excellent first two weeks of camp which resulted in the 2011 second-round draft choice being elevated to the No. 1 nose tackle spot over last season's starter, veteran Matt Toeaina. As a rookie, Paea appeared in 11 games and compiled 18 total tackles and 2.0 sacks, but spent much of the season recovering from a knee injury he sustained in January 2011 at Senior Bowl practice.
“It’s hard to stand on the sidelines and watch my teammates practice,” Paea said. “I feel like the biggest loser out there. I just got to get my mind right and take it day by day and see how it feels.”
Stephen Paea (ankle) hopes to be ready to play in the preseason finale.