The Chicago Bears are hoping to have playmaking gadget back Tarik Cohen up and running by the time training camp rolls around in late July, but the latest look at the All-Pro punt returner at the team’s mandatory veteran minicamp didn’t paint the best picture.
Chicago held its three-day minicamp from June 15-17, and per Bears sideline reporter Mark Grote, Cohen was “clearly walking a bit stiff-legged with his right leg wrapped.” The running back/punt returner went down in the third game of the season last year with a torn ACL, and he has spent this entire offseason recovering from the resulting surgery.
Cohen has also been dealing with unimaginable tragedy this offseason after his twin brother died of accidental electrocution.
“Right now Tarik is working hard,” Bears running backs coach Michael Pitre said on June 8. “Obviously he’s dealing with a tragedy that he dealt with. And our hearts and our thoughts are with him. But I know he’s just working hard and trying to take it day by day.”
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Bears HC Talks ‘Stiffness’ in Cohen’s Leg
Media members present at Bears veteran minicamp noticed Cohen appearing noticeably hobbled, and when he was asked about it, Bears head coach Matt Nagy acknowledged it before quickly moving on.
“Tarik, yeah, he had a little stiffness today and that’s why he was out there and you saw that. There’s going to be up and down days with these guys as they go. That’s just a part of the recovery process and they’re working through all of that,” Nagy said on June 15.
Cohen has 264 carries for 1,101 yards (4.2 yards per carry) and five touchdowns on the ground, and 209 catches for 1,575 yards, (7.5 yards per catch), and nine touchdowns as a receiver, so he has been a key role player for the Bears in his four seasons.
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Cohen Present, Limited at Team Activities
Gene Chamberlain of Sports Illustrated observed the following about Cohen on June 8: “Cohen was on the field at OTAs, but not really practicing. He is still undergoing rehab and trying to strengthen his knee. He wasn’t suited up with the others, but was running.”
Chamberlain also noted the goal for Chicago was to have the speedy running back “up and running by training camp.”
Cohen turns 26 in July, and his age can only help him in terms of his ACL recovery. He’s had an incredibly rough offseason, and he may very well need extra time to recover.
“With this injury, it’s slow. There’s nothing I can do,” Cohen said on The HOT Seat Podcast late in 2020. “I gotta just take it one day at a time … just do the things the trainers tell me to do. The main thing they’ve been telling me is, working at home by myself, trying to get my knee flexion, range of motion back, just constant repetition, and I feel like that’s just the hardest part. And then definitely the second hardest part is the pain — the pain when they’re bending my leg in physical therapy? That be the most excruciating pain I ever felt.”
New free agent acquisition Damien Williams could fill his shoes if his recovery takes longer than expected, but there’s no doubt how important Cohen is to this Bears offense — and special teams.
The leg wrap and extra gingerness to his gait could be nothing — but it absolutely will be something to watch heading into training camp.