After two weeks of avoiding a league-wide injury surge, the Bears appear to have lost running back Tarik Cohen for the rest of the season.
In his opening statement to the media, coach Matt Nagy confirmed that it appeared Cohen had torn his ACL after suffering a low hit on a punt return in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 30-26 comeback win over the Atlanta Falcons.
"Unfortunately, it looks like Tarik Cohen, after we get confirmation, looks like he did end up tearing his ACL," Nagy said. "So that will be a big blow to us there with that, which is unfortunate. So proud of that kid, and he's been really growing."
Cohen was injured with just over nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter with the Bears trailing 26-10. After fair-catching a punt, Falcons running back Brian Hill rolled into Cohen's lower right leg. After initially throwing a flag on the play, the officials concluded that Hill was pushed into Cohen by a Bears player and picked the flag up.
Cohen had rushed the ball twice for 21 yards while tallying three catches for another 20 yards. Since arriving in Chicago in 2017 as a fourth-round pick out of North Carolina A&T, Cohen established himself as an explosive playmaker and fan-favorite. Cohen's work as punt returner earned him All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors in 2018, a year in which he also contributed 1,169 all-purpose yards and six touchdowns.
Defensive lineman Akiem Hicks declined to discuss the injury but jumped on the opportunity to praise Cohen as an athlete and person.
"I love the guy," said Hicks. "He's an important person on this team. Someone I have a lot of respect for, somebody that is dedicated to this team and that wants to be the best at what he does. He's all you can ask for in a teammate. He's the energy when we need it, he's the focus when you want it, he's just our guy."
Cohen has played in all 51 games since joining the Bears, never missing a contest due to an injury. Last week, he signed a three-year extension with the Bears through 2023.
In the first three games this season, Cohen averaged 5.3 yards per carry and 6.8 yards per reception.