Expert Gives Grim Update on Tarik Cohen’s Future in NFL

Tarik Cohen

Getty One surgeon thinks former Bears running back Tarik Cohen may not play in the NFL again.

Former Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen ruptured the Achilles tendon in his right leg during a May 17 workout on Instagram live. ESPN insider Adam Schefter confirmed the injury via Twitter.

The Achilles rupture comes less than two years after the 2020 injury that saw Cohen tear his ACL and MCL while also fracturing his tibial plateau.

Cohen hasn’t played since his 2020 injury, and he recently noted he was feeling like his old self again just one week before the Achilles injury occurred. “That burst, it’s back. The quick-twitch muscles, they’re back. The ability to cut on a dime? That’s back too. And it feels amazing,” he wrote in a self-published piece in The Players Tribune on May 10.

According to orthopedic surgeon Dr. David Chao, a former NFL team doctor with 17 years of experience in the league who gives insight and analysis on injuries after they happen in real time, Cohen’s latest injury is “a potentially career-ending” one.

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Outlook for Possible Return ‘Does not Look Positive’ for Cohen

Cohen will now have another major surgery and “that recovery will stretch into the offseason ahead of the 2023 season,” Chao wrote on May 17.

Chao, who received his medical degree from Northwestern University in 1989, had an ominous outlook on a potential return to action for Cohen. “Unfortunately, Cohen’s outlook for a potential return does not look positive. He’s a shifty running back who has suffered two catastrophic injuries to his right leg,” the surgeon noted.

Chao also added that since it was his right leg that has suffered both the ACL tear and the Achilles rupture, Cohen’s rehab will likely be extremely difficult.

“With an ACL tear and an Achilles tendon rupture both on his right side, he will have difficulty returning to his agile ways,” Chao wrote, then referencing Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers, who tore his Achilles in July of 2021 and returned to action seven months later.

“Cam Akers beat the odds last season to return from an Achilles tendon tear, but struggled to be effective. It remains to be seen if Cohen will get another contract,” Chao wrote.

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 Cohen’s Size Makes His Shiftiness Key

Cohen, 26, was released by the Bears with an injury settlement in March and was on his way to a potential return in 2022 before the Achilles injury struck. He was an All-Pro punt returner in 2018, also making the Pro Bowl that year after he racked up 1,169 yards from scrimmage and scored eight total touchdowns.

The 5-foot-6, 181-pound gadget back lacks size and thus, has relied heavily on his speed and shiftiness whether returning punts, running the ball or lining up as a wide receiver. After the significant damage to his right leg courtesy of recent injuries, however it’s unclear if he’ll ever be the same player again. It’s a long shot, but it’s possible.

Cohen has played in 51 games and has averaged 6.6 yards after the catch in the 920 snaps he lined up at wide receiver over his four seasons, per PFF. Many of his YACs have been the result of both his speed and shiftiness, which he utilized on plays like this:

And this:

It remains to be seen whether Cohen can return and beat the odds, but it’s clear he has another long, hard road ahead.

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