Bears' Tarik Cohen is no longer a secret, but he's still a weapon
The Chicago Bears' secret weapon is no longer a secret, but rookie running back Tarik Cohen remains a weapon.
Cohen's 158 all-purpose yards against the Atlanta Falcons were the most ever by a Bears rookie in a debut.
The 5-foot-6, 181-pound fourth-round pick had 66 yards on 5 carries, 47 yards on 8 receptions and 45 yards on 3 punt returns.
If he gets more attention from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defense this week, it could make his job more difficult, but that's OK with Cohen.
"I would expect it," he said. "But that's my job, to get better, also, so that it won't be as difficult (for me)."
It's Dowell Loggains' job to find ways to get the ball in Cohen's hands, so the Bears' offensive coordinator might have to get more creative with his multipurpose gadget.
"The secret's out," Loggains said. "Everybody knows who Tarik is now. He played quarterback (in a Wildcat formation), slot receiver, outside receiver (and) running back.
"He's a smart kid. He might be our hardest practice player; works his tail off. Loves football. It's important to him.
"He's a playmaker. The Bucs have seen the tape, and they're obviously going to be aware of where he's at, and I'm sure they're going to work really hard to take him away."
It's not just opposing defensive coordinators who have become aware of Cohen's myriad talents. He has become an overnight sensation in fantasy football, as he has discovered on social media.
"That's the main thing I've heard coming into this week was people (saying), 'I had you on the bench; I should've started you. I'm a believer now,' " Cohen said.
Because of his small stature, there is concern for Cohen's well-being, and not just from fantasy footballers. He would advise everyone not to lose sleep over his health because he doesn't see himself as undersized.
"I feel bigger than everybody on the field," he said.
Cohen doesn't believe he proved anything special with his opening-day effort, even though there was skepticism about his ability to make the jump from North Carolina A&T.
"I feel like I just proved that I'm a football player, no matter my size, no matter where I've come from," he said. "I can make plays for this team."
Loggains realizes Cohen isn't built to be a workhorse back like his teammate Jordan Howard. Cohen is best-suited as a change-of-pace complement to Howard.
But Loggains doesn't fear for Cohen's safety, mostly because the 22-year-old doesn't seem to fear anything.
"His heart and his toughness and his passion for football -- I don't think he thinks that way," Loggains said. "He thinks about how he can help the team. He's fearless. He knows it's coming. He does a good job of ball security. I'm not worried about that.
"Obviously, we don't want him out there taking a ton of hits (because) it's a violent game. I have a tremendous amount of respect for how he plays the game. Don't look at him as 5-foot-6, because he doesn't look at himself that way."
Injuries have left the Bears' offense short of big-play wide receivers, but the shortest man on the field could help fill that void. As a runner and punt-returner, he averaged 13.9 yards on eight touches last week and also caught 8 passes for 47 yards.
"You see what happens when you get the ball in his hands," quarterback Mike Glennon said. "A lot of good things happen."
Cohen's self-confidence extends beyond the football field. His questionable rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" last week at Wrigley Field, performed with fellow running backs Howard and Benny Cunningham was mentioned.
"Not everyone has an ear for talent like I do," he said with a smile. "Some people said I couldn't sing. I don't think they were listening to the right person. They probably heard Benny or Jordan. My singing was excellent."
"You have a pretty high opinion of yourself," Cohen was told.
"I appreciate that," he said.
Not as much as the Bears' offense appreciates its new gadget.