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Bears speedster Tarik Cohen flies into training camp talking ‘dynasty’

After an electric entrance in a Polaris Slingshot, he turns his eyes to multiple championships.

Bears running back Tarik Cohen cruises Olivet Nazarene University in a Polaris Slingshot.
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

BOURBONNAIS — There’s nothing quiet about Tarik Cohen, and he made the flashiest entrance of any Bear when they reported for training camp Thursday.

Cohen ripped through the parking lot in a three-wheeled roadster, pulled up with his music thumping and stepped out in a Walter Payton jersey. Then he stepped to the microphone and declared it was time for the Bears to start a dynasty.

“Oh, yeah, definitely,” he said when asked if he meant to use that word. “After we win one — you know that’s not going to be our goal, just to win one; we’re trying to win multiple.”

The smallest player on the team has huge goals. It was a refreshing departure from the usual slog of one-day-at-a-time comments as players arrived at Olivet Nazarene University.

Cohen began his day with a 90-mile drive from Vernon Hills to Bourbonnais in a Polaris Slingshot, which has a starting retail price as high as $30,999, is advertised as “street legal” but recommends wearing a helmet and tops out at 130 mph.

He wouldn’t know about that last part, of course, and said he remained well within the law on the highways and ONU’s campus. Cohen whipped through a roundabout a few times before parking at check-in and getting his dorm assignment.

“I didn’t go over 25,” said Cohen, who repeatedly and emphatically — but hardly believably — mentioned that he drove the speed limit at all times. “Y’all can check it. Go back and roll the tape. It might have sounded loud, but it wasn’t over 25.”

He wouldn’t mind using the Slingshot to get over to the practice fields every day but figured the Bears would nix that idea quickly. Most likely, it’ll be parked for the next several days.

A few teammates marveled at it while Cohen talked to reporters for a few minutes, though most of them were too large to fit comfortably in it. Taylor Gabriel was brave enough to ride shotgun for a little bit. Kyle Long looked cramped when he sat in the driver’s seat, and Khalil Mack didn’t even want to try.

“That’s smooth,” Mack said. “I don’t know how he did it. I don’t know if I could fit in there.”

Cohen likes the vehicle because it’s cool, sure, but he also identifies with it. It’s compact and fast, and when asked how it drives, he replied, “Agile.”

Sound familiar? The Bears saw that torque and handling from Cohen last season as he went for 1,169 combined yards and eight touchdowns as a runner and receiver, as well as earning All-Pro honors as a punt returner.

He’s the most exciting skill player this team has had since Devin Hester and should get even better as he and Mitch Trubisky head into their third season together. The Bears drafted David Montgomery and signed Mike Davis as more powerful running backs and can keep using Cohen in a multifaceted role.

His progress will be one of the keys to the Bears bringing their offense up to the level of their defense, which is necessary if they’re going to be Super Bowl contenders.

They were 21st in yardage and ninth in scoring last season. That wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible, either, considering much of the personnel had been overhauled and it was coach Matt Nagy’s first season. There’s far more familiarity this summer — and far fewer excuses.

“We hold ourselves to a higher standard now,” Cohen said. “The older guys who’ve been here and watched us go from last place to winning the division, we know what it takes to have that success and to have that work pay off. We need to be more consistent. The defense bailed us out last year a lot, and we want to do our job more often this year.”