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Bears RB Tarik Cohen in question for season opener as he recovers from torn ACL

Cohen was the team’s top playmaker in 2018 and looked ready for a resurgence before a season-ending injury in 2020.

Tarik Cohen had 1,169 yards of total offense in 2018, then fell to 669 the next season before exiting the 2020 season with a torn ACL in Week 3.
Tarik Cohen had 1,169 yards of total offense in 2018, then fell to 669 the next season before exiting the 2020 season with a torn ACL in Week 3.
Nam Y. Huh/AP

Tarik Cohen is drifting from being a focal point of the offense to an ancillary piece as the Bears wait on his recovery from a torn ACL. With less than three weeks until the first game and coach Matt Nagy sketching out his plans for the offense, Nagy doesn’t know whether his versatile running back will be ready by the start of the season.

“He is just going through all of his rehab,” Nagy said Monday. “He’s out there trying to stay as flexible as he can and running around. I’m not out there when he’s doing his stuff, so I don’t know the exact details of what he’s doing. He’s definitely progressing.

“I don’t have a timeline for him, but he’s in a good place. It’s been frustrating for him, but he’s working hard.”

Nagy has no choice but to prepare to go without Cohen, who has been on the physically unable-to-perform list since training camp opened nearly a month ago.

None of this is much of a surprise as Cohen nears the 11-month mark since his injury, but it’s a hard truth to accept nonetheless.

Before a down season in 2019 and the early injury last season, Cohen was a game-changer for Nagy as a runner, receiver and punt returner. He led the Bears in 2018 with 1,169 yards of total offense (about two-thirds of that coming as a receiver), averaged 6.9 yards per touch, had 16 plays of 20-plus yards and scored eight touchdowns.

That’s absolutely something the Bears could use after averaging the second-fewest yards per play and scoring the sixth-fewest touchdowns in the NFL over the last two seasons.

More injury updates

Nagy allayed two significant concerns coming out of the preseason game against the Bills: Wide receiver Javon Wims was diagnosed with an oblique muscle injury after the initial fear that he was suffering from appendicitis, and starting defensive tackle Bilal Nichols’ toe injury shouldn’t keep him out long.

“He’ll be OK for [the opener],” Nagy said of Nichols. “We just want to be smart with him so he is ready for Week 1.”

No. 1 cornerback Jaylon Johnson was a surprise absence from practice Monday. The team said he was out for personal reasons. Linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe was out because of an illness, and cornerback Teez Tabor exited with a thigh injury.

On the plus side, defensive standouts Eddie Goldman, Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan all returned after missing time last week.