After a breakout rookie year, Bears running back and return specialist Tarik Cohen is determined to accomplish even bigger and better things in his second year in the NFL.
The 2017 fourth-round draft pick was interviewed on the Bears All-Access radio show Wednesday night, and here are five things we learned during his appearance:
(1) After displaying the same type of moves that earned him the nickname "The Human Joystick" at North Carolina A&T, Cohen knows that he's no longer a secret in the NFL.
"I take that as respect that I'm being noticed now and that was one of the main things I wanted to do coming into the league was get the respect as a football player," Cohen said. "I also take it as a challenge to get better because I know I'm going to have to get better as are defenses going to be against me. They're going to know about me now, so I'm going to have to up my game a notch."
Cohen made a huge impact as a Bears rookie, excelling on both offense and special teams. The 119th player picked in the draft rushed for 370 yards and two touchdowns on 87 carries, caught 53 passes for 358 yards and one TD, averaged 9.4 yards with one touchdown on 29 punt returns and averaged 22.4 yards on 26 kickoff returns.
Cohen also threw a 21-yard TD pass on a halfback option play to tight end Zach Miller in a win over the Ravens, becoming the first Bears rookie running back to throw a touchdown pass since Hall of Famer Gale Sayers in 1965.
In the process, Cohen became the first NFL rookie to generate a touchdown on a rush, reception, pass and punt return in a single season since Sayers in 1965 and the first NFL player to do so since Terry Metcalf in 1975.
(2) Cohen likens himself to versatile Chiefs star Tyreek Hill and is excited to play for new Bears coach Matt Nagy, who was Hill's offensive coordinator in Kansas City.
"When I was at the Combine, coaches would always ask me who I would compare myself to in the league, and I would always tell them Tyreek Hill," Cohen said. "I felt like I could do the same things that he does in that Kansas City offense as the team I was going to. And since we have their [former] coach now, I feel like I've got to live up to that. But I'm definitely looking forward to being the same type of playmaker."
(3) Even after a successful rookie season, Cohen remains humble by keeping his expectations high.
"The reason I stay grounded is because I set such high goals for myself," Cohen said. "So I might do something good, I might have a good season, but it still wasn't up to my standards. I hold myself to a high standard, so I want to do way better than the season I just had. I'm always looking to be better than I was."
(4) Cohen hopes to increase his strength during the offseason.
"I would like to get stronger," he said. "I weigh more than I weighed coming out of college. I gained 10 pounds. I was 175 coming out of college and now I'm 185. I picked it up during the season eating three meals a day and stuff. I feel like I want to see myself stronger and I want to get more cut as in body definition so that when the cameras come on me when I'm running the ball the arms are looking a little more 'swoll.'"
(5) Cohen has returned to North Carolina A&T to complete a final semester of classes he needs to graduate. "I really came back for my mom," Cohen said. "She really wanted me to graduate so that was the main reason I did it. And then I also just don't like not finishing something. I felt like I was so close—one semester—and it would be easy and just get back there and finish that up."