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Bears’ Tarik Cohen: ‘I think we will probably get a running back’ in draft

Tarik Cohen warms up prior to the Bears' playoff game in January. | Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Bears don’t play the Eagles for another 6½ months, but that didn’t stop running back Tarik Cohen from saying he has dibs.

When the Nov. 3 game is over, he wants to be the one to swap jerseys with former teammate Jordan Howard. He’s sure his teammates will want to do the same.

“He was like my mentor, basically,” Cohen said Monday. “Losing him, it hurt me a little bit. I’m not gonna lie. It hurt me. That’s like my brother. But it’s a business.”

Last month, the Bears traded Howard, who was an awkward fit in Matt Nagy’s offense, for a sixth-round draft pick in 2020 that could become a fifth if Howard excels.

Cohen said Howard will continue to stay motivated.

“I talked to him before and after [the trade],” Cohen said after meeting with members of the Heartland Alliance’s Rapid Employment and Development Initiative, which helps train those affected by gun violence. “He got the same mentality. It’s a business. He’s going to grind to keep his name in the headlines, and make his plays.”

The Bears, meanwhile, need someone to take Howard’s place.

They could find his replacement during this week’s NFL Draft. The Bears don’t pick until No. 87 and have only five draft picks, but adding a running back is among their top priorities.

“I think we will probably get a running back,” Cohen said. “I’m not sure — I’m really not included in those conversations.”

He joked that he doesn’t get to vote.

“That’s what they do — that’s their job,” he said. “We don’t let them come on the field.”

Cohen said his mindset won’t change regardless of whether the Bears draft a running back.

“I still gotta get up and work out and do those things and prepare for the season,” he said.

The Bears won’t feature Cohen as a traditional back either way. He has averaged fewer than six carries per game in his first two seasons with good reason — the Bears want to keep his rushing workload low so he can catch passes and return kicks. So there are plenty of carries to be had in 2019.

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The Bears like free-agent signee Mike Davis’ fresh legs, but that cuts both ways: He has averaged only 6.7 carries per game in his four-year career, including 7.6 last year.

Cohen praised Davis, whom he knew through mutual friend Todd Gurley even before the Bears gave him a two-year, $6 million contract last month. Cohen said Davis has fit right in during the play installations that are part of Phase I of the team’s offseason program.

“Mike, he’s like one of the guys,” Cohen said. “He’s already fitting in the locker room. Everybody’s already getting along cool.”

After a 12-4 season that ended with Cody Parkey’s double-doink in the first round of the playoffs, Cohen sounded ready to prove the Bears weren’t a one-year wonder.

“I think the whole city of Chicago feels like it’s unfinished business,” he said. “The way we went out was definitely not the way anybody wants to go out. We didn’t reach our goal. . . . We always have bigger dreams, bigger aspirations.”

That starts with the Bears’ opener against the Packers, who rallied from a 20-0 deficit to win in Week 1 last year.

“We came out just the way we wanted to come out — we didn’t finish,” Cohen said. “I feel like that scale is unfinished business again.”