When the Chicago Bears placed Tarik Cohen on the physically-unable-to-perform list at the start of training camp, the move surprised no one. The latest word on the gadget back and All-Pro punt returner indicates he may be a bit slower along in his recovery than some initially thought.
Bears sideline reporter Mark Grote tweeted that Cohen, who was at practice as an observer, was “still walking gingerly” on the sidelines. In mid-June, Grote also reported that Cohen was “clearly walking a bit stiff-legged with his right leg wrapped.” It doesn’t appear much has changed over the last month and a half.
Considering Cohen is still walking with a limp, it’s safe to assume he won’t be ready to play come September.
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Matt Nagy Takes it Slow With Injuries
Bears head coach Matt Nagy has a history of erring on the cautious side when it comes to injures, so it’s highly unlikely the team will try to incorporate Cohen into the offense before he’s ready.
“With Tarik starting off on PUP, it allows us to bring him along at the right rate,” Bears general manager Ryan Pace said about Cohen on July 27. “He’s been working his tail off. He’s been here every single day grinding. It allows us to take our time as he continues to rehab. So we’ll see where that goes, but with him on PUP, we don’t have to rush anything.”
Cohen tore his ACL Week 3 against the Atlanta Falcons while catching a punt, and Gene Chamberlain of Sports Illustrated wrote on June 8 that Chicago’s initial goal was to have Cohen “up and running by training camp.” If Cohen is still limping, perhaps his recovery has been slower than planned, or maybe his injury was worse than initially reported. Either way, the most important thing is that the speedy play-maker heals fully before he tries to rush back.
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Bears Added Tons of Speed This Offseason
Cohen has 264 carries for 1,101 yards (4.2 yards per carry) and 5 touchdowns on the ground through his four seasons with the Bears, but Nagy also loved lining him up as a receiver, and he was far more effective in that capacity. Cohen has 209 catches for 1,575 yards, (7.5 yards per catch) and 9 receiving TDs, and if he’s slow to return — and all indicators are he will be — look for free agent wide receivers Marquise Goodwin and Damiere Byrd to fill Nagy’s need for speed in the lineup. The Bears also added speed through the draft, in wideout Dazz Newsome and running back Khalil Herbert. Byrd and Goodwin in particular should have solid roles in the passing game.
“A lot of us see what speed can do in this league,” Nagy said on July 27. “I know it can definitely scare a lot of defensive coordinators when you have that because it can open up the run game, too, because you got to play deeper. But at the same point in time, those are two are guys that we just talked about, too, that have had a really good offseason, that we understand we’re going to have a plan for and let them go compete.”
In the backfield, former Kansas City Chiefs running back Damien Williams joined Chicago this offseason, and it’s looking more and more like he’ll also see an increased role in Nagy’s offense, at least towards the beginning of the season.