LAKE FOREST – One of the most difficult sights of the 2020 season so far came in the midst of one of the highlights of the young campaign.
While fielding a punt in the fourth quarter, Tarik Cohen knee was bent awkwardly, tearing his ACL and bringing an end to his 2020 season. A popular player among players and fans, the Bears lost one of their best multi-purpose players.
While punt returning will fall on the shoulders of another, it’s Cohen as running back where the loss will be mostly felt.
Not only would the fourth-year player provide a speed option out of the backfield for Matt Nagy, he was also a pass catching threat. He was averaging 5.3 yards per carry on his 14 touches in his first two games while also catching six passes for 41 yards.
It’s a challenge that now faces Nagy as he looks to make up the lost production with David Montgomery and Cordarrelle Patterson in the Week 4 match-up against the Colts.
“There’s some scheme to it where we have to say ‘OK, we don’t have here what Tarik does well. We don’t have that.'” said Nagy. “But at the same time if whoever we decided we decided to give more carries to, whoever that is that ends up playing more, we’ve got to work to their strengths.”
Montgomery has shown some versatility early for the Bears, though his rushing ability still remains his biggest asset to the team. He’s got 191 yards and 43 carries (4.4 yards per carry) in what has been an improved rushing attack from a season ago.
He’s also shown his ability to make something happen out of the backfield, with his 28-yard touchdown catch against the Giants being one of the offense’s best plays early on. The key for Montgomery is not to get caught up in replacing Cohen but rather continuing to his part to keep the running game a threat for the offense.
“I’m just here to come in and play what I need to play,” said Montgomery. “Just be able to go out and do me and bring whatever I can to the table to help the team.”
Patterson, who switched to running back in training camp, has 15 rushes for 57 yards while also catching three passes out of the backfield. Ryan Nall and Artavis Pierce can help to do so in the short term as well, and so may the reportedly signed Lamar Miller, who made the Pro Bowl with the Texans in 2018.
All may be eager to contribute, but replacing the versatile Cohen won’t be easy.
“We’ve got to come out and try to take over his role, but it’s impossible, man, because Tarik does everything,” said Patterson. “It’s gonna be hard to try to fill in his shoes.”