When my eyes aren’t fixated on what Justin Fields is doing at practice, they tend to drift to what is happening on the sidelines. And one player I can’t help but try to keep tabs on is Tarik Cohen.
Part of that is force of habit, as there was a three-year stretch when Cohen was one of those guys you had to keep eyes on at practice because if you blinked while he was on the field, you might miss something cool. But because Cohen is on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, the only action you’re seeing from Cohen is talking up teammates, chatting with coaches, and the occasional wiggle when a good song from the training camp playlist hits the speakers.
Unfortunately, that looks to be the extent of his action this summer:
Physically RB Tarik Cohen is still going through his rehab and recovery from his ACL repair. "I know it's been frustrating for him…everyday he keeps working at it." HC Matt Nagy with no timeline on his potential return. @WBBMNewsradio
— Jeff Joniak (@JeffJoniak) August 23, 2021
Sigh. Cohen, who has been on the PUP List since the start of training camp after suffering a season-ending ACL injury in Week 3 last year, hasn’t been able to do on-field work with his teammates. And that stinks. When healthy, Cohen is an integral part of an offense that uses him as a rusher and receiver out of the backfield, while also deploying him as a traditional pass-catcher from the slot (and sometimes, outside). Cohen is also an All-Pro punt returner and someone who can return kicks when called upon. And, sure, the Bears have done well to fill his roles via free agency (Damien Williams) and the draft (Khalil Herbert). It’s just that having more healthy playmakers is better than having fewer.
That Cohen is still going through the rehabilitation and recovery process suggests that he could begin the year on injured reserve. If that is how the cookie crumbles, Cohen would be out of action for at least the first three games of the season. Once those three weeks pass, the Bears would have to make him eligible to return for practice. And whenever they cross that bridge, it would open a 21-day window in which the team has to put him back onto the active roster. But it feels like we’ve got some time before we even get to that bridge.
However, for what it’s worth, the NFL made a tweak to IR rules, with a notable modification that allows an unlimited number of players to return from injured reserve. In other words, if the Bears choose to be overly cautious with Cohen, they can do so without worrying about taking up one of the few, precious spots for someone to return from IR.