- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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DETROIT -- Chicago Bears defensive tackle Stephen Paea wore a walking boot on his left foot after Sunday’s loss 40-32 loss to the Detroit Lions, but isn’t expected to miss time with what he called a minor turf toe injury.
Moving over from his customary spot at nose tackle to the 3-technique tackle spot in place of Henry Melton, who is out for the season with a torn ACL, Paea contributed two tackles, including a stop for lost yardage. A three-year veteran, Paea came into the game with six tackles, half a sack and two tackles for lost yardage.
Although the injury isn’t considered serious, it’s likely Paea will appear on the injury report headed into next week’s game against the New Orleans Saints at Soldier Field. Paea said the medical staff encouraged him to wear the walking boot to take pressure off the toe during travel back to the team’s facilities from Detroit.
But if Paea winds up missing time, the Bears could be in a difficult situation given there’s not much depth behind him and Nate Collins, who assumed a starting role due to Melton’s injury. As it stands, Paea, Collins and Zach Minter, who was inactive on Sunday, are the club’s only bona fide defensive tackles.
The club’s franchise player, Melton contributed five tackles and a fumble recovery in three games before suffering the torn ACL during the team’s Sept. 22 win over Pittsburgh. Paea recognized the difficulty of trying to fill the gaps up front without Melton, a 2012 Pro Bowler.
“He’s done some great stuff,” Paea said of Melton. “Obviously, the next guy up has got to step up, including myself. I’ve played some 3 [technique] before. It’s just a matter of time, repetitions and practice.”