Chicago Bears

Tarik Cohen proved he more than belongs in the NFL on Thursday

Tarik Cohen proved he more than belongs in the NFL on Thursday

Tarik Cohen sparked a listless Bears offense Thursday night, showing that not only does he belong at the NFL level, but he can make an immediate impact in his rookie year. 

Cohen notched the Bears’ first first down of their preseason opener against the Denver Broncos, following an eight-yard run with an 11-yard scamper late in the first quarter. He carried the ball on the first four plays of the Bears’ 12-play, 53-yard drive — the best engineered by Mike Glennon — and added runs of eight and 12 yards on it, too. 

“It was lightning in a bottle,” left tackle Charles Leno Jr. said. “He was quick, agile, really hard to tackle, really hard to see out there for the defenders — good for us. Just a really good player. He provided some good help for us on the offense.”

It was a continuation of what we’ve seen from Cohen during practice in Bourbonnais, and answered one of the biggest questions about the 5-foot-6, 181 pound running back’s game: Can he hold up against NFL competition?

Cohen gained two yards on his first carry of the game, which represented the first time he was hit by an opposing NFL defender in his life. He said nothing felt different after that hit. 

“It’s like, here we go again,” Cohen said. “Back at it. Let’s continue to do what I’ve been doing.” 

Victor Cruz was on the sidelines when Cohen jogged off the field after that first hit and saw how amped up he was after it. 

“Any time you see him, man, he’s always jumping up and down or laughing or smiling or joking,” Cruz said. “He’s always upbeat. So his first little bit of contact, he was excited for it, he was waiting for it, I’m sure. And now he knows what it feels like to get hit in the NFL.”

As with everything that happened Thursday night — the good of Mitch Trubisky, the bad of Mike Glennon — the Bears aren’t overreacting. But Cohen not injected some positivity into the Bears’ offense, he did it with the first-team, which may be the strongest indication of how coaches view the fourth-round pick.  

“I like to think of myself as, like, a spark plug,” Cohen said. “So wherever the offense’s at, if we’re struggling, I want to come in and get everybody motivated, have that one spark play that might spark somebody else to have a big play also. When I make a big play, I’m thinking if it’s not a touchdown, then I know somebody else on the team is going to score a touchdown.” 

What you need to know from Bears practice: Kyle Long gets ankle checked out, expresses remorse for Monday fights

What you need to know from Bears practice: Kyle Long gets ankle checked out, expresses remorse for Monday fights

Coach John Fox said Kyle Long expressed “remorse” and was “embarrassed” after being kicked out of Monday’s final training camp practice in Bourbonnais for sparking a pair of skirmishes with teammates.

Long hasn’t been available to the media since his pair of physical outbursts on Monday, and wasn’t at practice Wednesday. Fox said Long was at a doctor’s appointment to get his surgically-repaired ankle checked out, but is expected to be back at practice on Thursday.

Long’s father, NFL on Fox analyst Howie Long, addressed his son’s practice ejection on the Rich Eisen Show on Tuesday.

“He’s gotta get it under control,” Long said. “It’s one of those things where you’re coming back from injury and you’re switching positions, maybe you’re not where you want to be right now.”

Fox said “everything’s fine” with Long after talking with him, and understood where he could be frustrated by slowly being eased back into full team activities during practice (and possibly not playing in any preseason games).

“I think any time a player's injured, they get something that they love taken away from them,” Fox said. “It's been a minute, there's some pain and suffering that goes along with it and I'm sure those are things. But we have a lot of resources here, Kyle knows he's loved here, by his teammates and by everyone in the building. He'll get through it and we talked about that and I think he feels confident in that.”

From the sick bay

Cornerback Prince Amukamara didn’t participate in practice Wednesday due to a strained hamstring and is day-to-day, Fox said. Wide receiver Markus Wheaton had surgery on his fractured pinkie, too, Fox said.

There was some good news for the Bears on Wednesday, though, with Jeremy Langford and Mark Sanchez both participating in practice. Langford isn’t quite back to full health after spraining his ankle during a walkthrough in July, but sounded confident he can get back to that level.

“I think my main thing is getting back to 100 percent and being the player that I am and can be, and the rest will take care of itself,” Langford said.

Mitch Trubisky isn't buying (or paying attention to) the hype around him

Mitch Trubisky isn't buying (or paying attention to) the hype around him

Mitch Trubisky has to at least be aware of the hype he created with his standout preseason debut last week, right? 

“I don’t know what hype you’re taking about,” Trubisky said. “I don’t pay attention to it.”

This is coming from a guy who earlier during training camp said he’s “so good” at tuning out the outside noise, whether it’s coming from social media or traditional media. But even if Trubisky was playing coy and is aware of what’s being said and debated about him, he didn’t sound like someone willing to buy into that hype.

“I think it’s just a small step in the right direction,” Trubisky said of his first preseason game. “I still got a lot of work to do. I was pleased with how I played, but plenty more mistakes are going on during practice for me that I need to work on and continue to improve in my game and make sure when I go out there that I’m doing my job to help other people do their job.”

The mistakes Trubisky identified he made in the Denver game are about what you’d expect from a rookie quarterback making the transition from a college spread offense to the NFL (like taking the wrong drop). The Broncos second/third/fourth-string defenses didn’t throw much at him, either, so a lot of his work on identifying blitzes and setting protections is having to happen in practice. 

So there is plenty on which for Trubisky to work during practices and the Bears’ remaining three preseason games. Like coach John Fox — who said after Thursday’s game he wouldn’t blow up the depth chart for one preseason game — Trubisky wasn’t putting a whole lot of emphasis on what he did against Denver, as good as it may have been. 

“I think it just showed me that I’m making progress, that I could go out there and lead and do my job like I wanted to show,” Trubisky said. “But it was just a small sample. It was the first game, and you just gotta continue to be consistent in reproducing it. that’s why we’re out here working and practicing.”