The Bears lost one of their most electric offensive players Sunday when running back Tarik Cohen left with a knee injury in the fourth quarter of the 30-26 victory against the Falcons.
The initial examination indicated a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, coach Matt Nagy said, and that would end Cohen’s season.
‘‘That will be a big blow to us,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘So proud of that kid, and he’s been really growing.’’
Cohen’s injury happened on a punt return in which he called for a fair catch. As Falcons running back Brian Hill ran down in coverage, Bears rookie cornerback Kindle Vildor pushed him, and he went shoulder-first into Cohen’s right leg. Cohen was unable to put any weight on his knee as he was helped to a cart on the sideline.
The injury ends what appeared to be a resurgence by Cohen and strips the Bears of one of the most popular personalities in their locker room.
‘‘I love the guy,’’ defensive tackle Akiem Hicks said. ‘‘He’s an important person on this team, someone I have a lot of respect for, somebody that is dedicated to this team and that wants to be the best at what he does. He’s all you can ask for in a teammate. He’s the energy when we need it. . . . He’s just our guy.’’
Cohen had two rushes for 21 yards and three catches for 20 yards in the victory. He was averaging 5.8 yards per touch this season, up from 4.7 in 2019.
He was the Bears’ most productive offensive player in 2018 with 1,169 yards from scrimmage and was named an All-Pro punt returner.
The injury came a week after Cohen, 25, secured his future with the Bears on a three-year, $17.3 million contract extension that runs through the 2023 season.
His exit leaves the Bears with David Montgomery as their primary running back and Cordarrelle Patterson and Ryan Nall behind him. Cohen led that group with 5.3 yards per carry, and his proficiency as a receiver will make him difficult to replace.