- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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Paea matter-of-factly called Monday night’s win over the Dallas Cowboys “my worst performance of the season.”
“I thought I didn’t pass rush very well,” Paea said. “I know I can contribute more than I did in that game. But our linebackers, corners, safeties, they did all the work and saved me that day.”
Paea contributed only one tackle against the Cowboys, after generating five stops in the two previous games to go with a half sack and two quarterback pressures. That’s not the type of performance Paea would like to repeat.
After all, Paea swooped in during training camp and wrested away the starting job at defensive tackle from veteran Matt Toeaina, who has been inactive the past three games. So Paea’s not oblivious to the possibility that either Toeaina or Amobi Okoye could eventually unseat him if they flash more consistency at practice and in games.
Facing a Jaguars team expected to lean heavily on running back Maurice Jones-Drew, Paea relishes the prospects for a battle in the trenches to unfolding.
“It’s what we sign up for. It’s what we get paid for; might as well do your best,” Paea said. “It’s not like (defensive coordinator Rod) Marinelli is going to come to me and say, ‘Hey Stephen, you’re going to play linebacker today.’ It’s not going to happen, so you’ve just got to put your hand down. You have to come in with your ‘A’ game every time or you’re going to get pushed back five yards, and that’s not a good feeling. We are the frontline of the defense, and it starts with the defensive linemen.”