Rookie RB Cohen shines in regular-season debut
Turns out rookie running back Tarik Cohen is more than a preseason phenom. Much more.
The 5-foot-6, fourth-round draft pick from North Carolina A&T had a thrilling debut. He rushed for a game-high 66 yards on just 5 carries, including a dazzling 46-yard run that set up the Bears' first TD.
Cohen also caught a game-high 8 passes for 47 yards and returned 3 punts for 45 yards.
"That's a man right there," tight end Zach Miller said. "He took shot after shot, and he was the first one up. 'Let's go, do it again.' That's a man. I don't give a (darn) about his stature, that dude is a real-live NFL football player.
"He's a baller. The kid is special; all over the place, too. It's fun playing ball with him."
Cohen scored 59 touchdowns as a four-year starter in college, and he got his first in the NFL on a 19-yard reception from Mike Glennon.
"Besides the fact that we didn't come up with the win, it went pretty good," Cohen said. "The offensive line did a tremendous job blocking for me."
The 181-pound Cohen did take a pounding, including when he was flung out of bounds by Falcons linebacker Deion Jones drawing a 15-yard penalty.
"We play the game of football," he said. "It's hit or be hit. At my position, I'm used to taking hits. I feel like a durable-enough back to take those kinds of hits. I feel like my defense has already prepared me to take those kinds of hits."
Wide receiver Kevin White left the game in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury after catching 2 passes for 6 yards on 4 targets and did not return.
He left the locker room with his left arm in a sling, and fears are he may have suffered a fractured collarbone.
White, the seventh overall draft pick in 2015, missed his entire rookie season following surgery for shin splints. He started the first four games last season (19 catches, 187 yards) before suffering a season-ending fractured fibula and severe high-ankle sprain.
Asked about White after the game, Bears coach John Fox said: "He hurt his shoulder."
Backup running back Benny Cunningham left early in the second quarter with an ankle injury and did not return.
Outside linebacker Pernell McPhee was active but played just a handful of snaps and did not appear in the defensive statistics.
After the training staff reported that McPhee was in the best shape of his life, Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was asked if it was fair to expect the veteran to be the 2015 version of himself.
"Probably not," Fangio said.
"I heard from our medical training staff that he's in the best shape of his life," Fangio said. "Then I hear that he can only play so-and-so-many snaps. Take everything with a grain of salt that you hear from those people."
The Bears' offensive creativity was rewarded with a game-tying 4-yard TD run by Jordan Howard with 14 seconds left in the first half.
Quarterback Mike Glennon lined up as a wide receiver, split right. Rookie running back Tarik Cohen took the snap in Wildcat formation and handed off to Howard, who scooted around the right side to tie the score at 10-all.
"I just tried to find a guy (to block)," Glennon said. "Surprisingly, I was able to help the play out."
Sitting it out:
Inactive for the Bears were guard Kyle Long, cornerback Prince Amukamara (ankle), quarterback Mark Sanchez, defensive lineman John Jenkins, wide receivers Markus Wheaton (finger) and Tre McBride and running back Taquan Mizzell.
Five-year veteran Tom Compton made his 11th NFL start in place of Long at left guard.
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