http://www.rrstar.com/sports/x417561...become-key-cogChicago Bears DL Stephen Paea plans to become key cog
BOURBONNAIS — Stephen Paea quickly became known as the new record-holder of the NFL Combine bench-press test when he threw up 49 repetitions of 225 pounds as his peers watched in amazement in 2011.
But this year, he wants to be known as something else. This year, he wants to be known as the Bears defensive lineman who made an impact whenever he was on the field.
“It is, it’s important to me that I go out there and every play I’m on the field, I make a difference,” Paea said while walking off the field Friday after Day 2 of training camp. “I’ve worked myself up to this point, and now I want to help this team win. I want to be a difference-maker.”
Paea, the Bears second-round draft pick, was hobbled when he came to the team after he tore his lateral meniscus in the 2011 Senior Bowl. He had surgery, was the first draft pick of the year for the Bears, and was then inactive through the first five weeks of the season.
He healed enough to work himself into the rotation at both defensive tackle and noseguard toward the end of last season, and finished with 18 tackles and two sacks. He then went out and had another arthroscopic knee surgery in January, and now he believes his yearlong-plus battle that had him unable to bend his knee at all is over.
“Oh, what a difference. Not only is the knee better and I can move around and use my speed, but I’m different mentally,” the 6-foot-1 300-pounder said. “I’ve got confidence in my knee, confidence in my body, and confidence in the type of player I can be.”
The Bears will need a lot more out of him this year after the offseason departures of Anthony Adams and Amobi Okoye.
They were released by the team, leaving Henry Melton at tackle and Matt Toeaina at noseguard, and Paea to back them up.
The Bears signed former Tampa Bay lineman Brian Price on Thursday, but are still thin — at least when it comes to NFL experience — on the inside. Paea hopes to make that a non-issue.
“I know I can use my versatility, and I can be the kind of player they need,” said Paea, who moved to the U.S. from Tonga at age 16. “If Matt needs a break, I can go right in there. When Henry’s out, I’ll be there, too.....
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Long story short, he thinks he can help the team win; I think most fans agree! Lets see it on the field big man!+