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updated: 8/20/2017 6:49 PM

Imrem: Chicago Bears' Cohen looking good, big time

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  • Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen (29) runs during the first half of the preseason opener against the Denver Broncos.

    Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen (29) runs during the first half of the preseason opener against the Denver Broncos.

 
 

Whoa!

No, wait.

Not whoa.

Go.

Go, Tarik, go.

Run like a 181-pound blur blazing through the wind.

OK, so I'm getting a little too excited about Chicago Bears rookie running back Tarik Cohen.

But you have to understand that it's only natural for me to be partial to big-time athletes of small-time physical stature.

Cohen is listed at 5-feet-6, a few hairs short of where I stretch, which is a few more hairs short of where I used to stretch.

You just can't find many NFL players -- or MLB, NBA and NHL players -- short of 5-7.

Tarik Cohen is not only small but from football-small North Carolina A&T?

"He's explosive," Bears head coach John Fox said of Cohen. "He's flashed at us."

Fox made that comment early Sunday morning after Cohen gained 77 yards in 11 carries during the Bears' preseason victory at Arizona late Saturday.

Cohen had a chance to start and run with the first team because No. 1 back Jordan Howard was scratched after having an eye poked in Friday's walk-through.

Looking comfortable from the start, Cohen ran a bit inside, mostly outside, broke tackles, ripped off three sizable gainers and overall appeared ready for all challenges.

One benefit of Cohen's performance was as a tantalizing opening act before rookie rock star Mitch Trubisky took his turn at quarterback in the second half.

Cohen won't supplant Howard as the featured back but will play multiple roles … change-of-pace backup, third-down threat, a little bit of this, a little bit of that … with no "little bit" pun intended.

"We saw (Cohen) from day one in underwear," Fox said. "I thought he showed a lot of tools. He has a very mature attitude and mindset in preparation, whether it's in pass protection or running the ball or as a pass receiver. He's got a good feel for the game."

In basketball, a player who is extremely tall or short or speedy or strong is said to unbalance the court.

Maybe that's true of players in football, too. If so, Cohen fits the requirement on two counts: small and speedy.

"Oh, yeah, definitely," Cohen said when asked whether he can beat defensive players with his speed. "Being a speedy back with a low center of gravity, I'm hard to tackle. It helps with a combination of good blocking, and I'm always looking to hit the home run ball."

Cohen's speed has aroused the level of curiosity, excitement and hope of Bears fans beyond what's normal for a fourth-round draft choice.

Nicknamed the Human Joystick for the way he darts and dashes around the field, Cohen is the type of electric weapon the Bears' offense lacked in recent years.

"I like what I've seen," Fox said. "Even in pads, he runs with authority."

One characterization included in Cohen's scouting report is he's fearless, and it must be true the way he attacks defenders more than 100 pounds heavier.

"That's just something that I always want to prove," Cohen said. "Being a smaller back, they always think you are going to be the type of back to run out of bounds or shy away from contact. I like to go the opposite way and be the one to deliver the contact."

Early indications are that Tarik Cohen just might deliver more than that for the Bears' offense.

Go, Tarik, go.

Don't let anyone sell you short.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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