Tarik Cohen didn’t know that, minutes earlier, his coach again had decided to remain coy about David Montgomery’s status. Or that Matt Nagy was probably going to enjoy a few hours more of gamesmanship before Wednesday afternoon’s injury report revealed that the running back could be on target to play in the opener Sunday.
Montgomery was carted off the practice field with a groin injury during practice warmups Aug. 26. Exactly two weeks later, he participated in individual drills during the portion of practice open to the media Wednesday and was listed officially as a limited participant.
Before practice, Cohen made the injury sound like something in the past tense.
“I feel like the injury was a bigger deal in the media than it really was here,” Cohen said Wednesday. “He bounced back off of that so fast, it’s like it never happened. He’s already back doing the things you love to see him doing, running hard and just, you know, making that first person have a tough day tackling him. I just see him having a great year this year. Like I said, his yards after that first contact is going to be off the charts this year.”
Montgomery still has to see how his injury felt after practicing on the artificial turf at the Walter Payton Center. But his return Sunday would take pressure off quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who will be the center of attention in Detroit after beating out Nick Foles for the starting job.
Nagy decided not to comment publicly on injuries the last 10 days, saying he wouldn’t divulge information until the injury report required him to. About four hours before the report came out Wednesday — and an hour before practice began — he continued to play coy.
“I would go ahead and tell you that I think that David Montgomery is going to have a helluva stretch practice today,” Nagy said with a smile.
Nagy, who will address the injury Thursday, merely offered that the Bears “feel good where we’re at” and “like our running back room.” That was made apparent by the team’s lack of cut-day moves. They Bears waived undrafted rookie running back
Artavis Pierce on Saturday. While they eventually made him one of the four practice-squad players protected from poaching from NFL teams this week, it was clear they weren’t scrambling for extra rushers. The Bears did not sign a veteran running back, either.
If Montgomery can play, Cohen will serve as a pass-catching back. Cordarrelle Patterson, the converted receiver, will take a few handoffs. And Ryan Nall will play mostly special teams.
“I’ve said this before: they all bring a different skill set,” general manager Ryan Pace said this week. “They’re all different. They all complement each other really well. So we feel really strong about that room, all four of them, including Artavis Pierce on the practice squad. It’s a good room with a different skill set. We’re looking forward to seeing that unfold.”
They’d feel better with Montgomery on the field. Bears coaches were thrilled with him before the injury. He cut beef jerky, donuts and other junk food out of his offseason routine, losing 6 pounds to get down to 218. He looked quick. His knowledge of the offense was far beyond what it was as a rookie.
“We love him,” Patterson said last week. “Everybody loves him in this organization. I’m just ready to see what he can do for a year or two. We got high expectations for David, you know. [I’m] talking to him each and every day, man, and he just loves the game. You need guys like that in this locker room.”