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Bears DT Nate Collins out for season with torn ACL

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Updated: November 9, 2013 6:22AM



The Bears’ next-man-up way of life has turned into a next-people-up situation.

The team’s depth at defensive tackle — a concern when Pro Bowler Henry Melton and top reserve Nate Collins were healthy — is now truly disconcerting. Like Melton, Collins is lost for the season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee suffered Sunday against the Saints.

So, now what?

“I’ve just got to relate to the present, and that is we’ve got to go out and play Thursday night [against the Giants] with the guys that we have that are healthy,” coach Marc Trestman said Monday. “I know our guys are going to give their best efforts. They’re motivated, certainly, to do that. And then when this game is over, we’ll have a couple of extra days, and we’ll be able to kind of gather ourselves and see where we are with the present situation.”

It starts with whom the Bears already have, which makes Stephen Paea’s health a top priority. Paea sat out Sunday because of a nagging toe injury.

“[Paea will] be day-to-day until Thursday at 5 o’clock,” Trestman said. “He’s got a chance to be [healthy], but we’re not going to put a guy out there where he’s just about ready to turn the corner, and then he goes backward again for the sake of one game. We’ve got a long season to play.”

Defensive end Corey Wootton figures to stay in the three-technique tackle spot for the second consecutive game, and rookie defensive ends David Bass (13 snaps against the Saints) and Cornelius Washington will compete to back up Shea McClellin and Julius Peppers.

Defensive tackle Landon Cohen, who was signed after Melton was injured, should also see more playing time after getting 26 snaps against the Saints.

The Bears liked Cohen because he was familiar with their scheme after having played for former defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli in Dallas.

That’s probably why the Bears are bringing back defensive tackle Christian Tupou, too. General manager Phil Emery said late Monday on WBBM-AM (780) that the Bears signed Tupou to the practice squad. Tupou was with the Bears in training camp and the preseason.

But defensive tackle Zach Minter, an undrafted rookie, is next in line for playing time. He was active for the first time this season against New Orleans but didn’t play.

“We’ve been working hard to develop him,” Trestman said. “He’s done some really good things, so that’s certainly a point of discussion as we move into the next 24 hours.”

Collins was a reserve to start the season, but he was playing like a starter. He had a sack, two quarterback hits and a tackle for loss against the Saints before tearing his ACL in the third quarter.

Trestman simply called it very disappointing, but he said there can’t by any excuses against the Giants, who are 0-5.

“Every team goes through these same kind of scenarios each and every week throughout the league,” Trestman said. “Somebody is coming in somewhere to be the next man up, and . . . we’ve got to get them lined up, and they’ve got to go hard.”

Email: ajahns@suntimes.com

Twitter: @adamjahns



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