Tarik Cohen had one thought when the punt was dropping into his arms at the 14-yard line Thursday night: “How fast are the gunners coming down here to tackle me?”
The answer: Not fast enough.
Cohen caught the ball, made a video-game juke move and ran down the left sideline for 17 yards.
It was a big first step for Cohen, who had called a fair catch earlier in the Bears’ preseason game against the Broncos while rotating punt-return duties with fellow rookie Eddie Jackson. Cohen, a 5-6 running back, hadn’t returned many punts at North Carolina A&T.
If Mitch Trubisky was the most exciting part of Thursday night’s 24-17 loss, Cohen was No. 2. There might not be a No. 3.
The Bears want to find creative ways to get the ball in Cohen’s hands — be it on inside runs, outside tosses, pass plays or punt returns.
“He’s a fabulous spark,” left tackle Charles Leno said after Cohen had seven carries for 39 yards. “He’s lightning in a bottle, I would say. He’s quick, agile and really hard to tackle and see out there for defenses. Good for us.”
After wowing his teammates in camp, Cohen didn’t shy away from contact in his first NFL preseason game — telling, considering his size. His first NFL hit felt good, he said.
“I like to think of myself as like a spark plug,” he said. “Wherever the offense is at, if we’re struggling, I want to come in and get everybody motivated, have that one spark play. It might spark somebody else to have [one] also.”
Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley.