CLEVELAND -- Chicago Bears defensive tackle Stephen Paea tested his sore left ankle on the turf Thursday at Cleveland Browns Stadium, but don’t take that as a sign he’ll play in the club’s final preseason outing.
Hours before the game, Paea ran on the injured ankle, took part in drills, and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli put him through a workout. But the club doesn’t want to rush Paea back onto the field and risk him suffering a setback.
Paea hoped to return to the practice field earlier in the week, but the team’s medical staff pushed the timeline back a week to give the second-year veteran more time to heal for the regular-season opener on Sept. 9 against the Indianapolis Colts.
Paea originally injured the ankle toward the end of a workout on Aug. 11 at Olivet Nazarene University.
Prior to the injury, Paea appeared to be seizing the starting job at defensive tackle by outplaying veteran Matt Toeaina early on at training camp. It’s been more than two weeks since Paea was healthy enough to participate in drills. So there’s question as to whether the former second-round pick will return as a starter or reserve.
Paea admitted he expects soreness in the ankle to linger.
“When I come back, it’s not going to be 100 percent,” he said recently. “But what I can do is stay on top of it and gradually get better.”