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posted: 10/5/2013 8:00 AM

If Paea can't go, Bears could be in big trouble

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Bears defensive tackle Stephen Paea (toe) did not practice all week but said he expects to play Sunday against New Orleans, although that might be wishful thinking.

He is listed as "questionable."

The Bears have already lost Pro Bowl defensive tackle Henry Melton (knee) for the season and if Paea can't go, they'll be playing a mostly inexperienced and undistinguished group of linemen against the NFL's No. 4 offense.

Without Paea, the Bears would be paper thin at tackle.

Career backup Nate Collins got the first start of his four-year career last week but played his worst game of the season, according to Pro Football Focus. Landon Cohen, who was picked up as a street free agent nine days ago and has started five games in five previous seasons, played 15 snaps last week. Undrafted rookie Zach Minter was inactive the first four weeks but could be pressed into service.

Last week, defensive end Corey Wootton played some snaps at tackle, but that leaves just Julius Peppers and Shea McClellin at end, along with rookie Cornelius Washington, who played his first four snaps last week.

"It's the next-man-up situation," coach Marc Trestman said. "We expect to go out there and play well inside. Guys are down; it happens all over the league. We're dealing with it this week just as other teams are throughout the league. We've just got to go about our business."

Injury update:

Cornerback Charles Tillman (groin/knee) was limited Friday, as he has been for most of the past two weeks, but he is questionable and expected to play.

Defensive end Julius Peppers (chest), wide receiver Brandon Marshall (foot), tight end Martellus Bennett (shoulder), cornerback Sherrick McManis (quad) and linebacker D.J. Williams (ill) are all probable.

Safety Anthony Walters (hamstring), coming off his best special teams performance of the season, did not practice all week and is out.

The Saints list three starters, nose tackle Brodrick Bunkley (calf), wide receiver Lance Moore (hand) and safety Roman Harper (knee) as out, plus running back Mark Ingram.

By the numbers:

The Bears' offense converted 2 fourth-down opportunities before they converted even once on third down against the Lions. The Bears were 2-for-2 on fourth downs and just 1-for-13 on third downs, when their only conversion came with 43 seconds left in the game, their last play of the game, a 10-yard TD pass to Earl Bennett. ... According to Pro Football Focus, the Bears allowed Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford to complete just 4 of 11 passes that traveled more than 10 yards downfield.

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