After a stellar rookie year with the Bears in 2017, former North Carolina A&T star Tarik Cohen insists that he wasn't treated any differently when he returned to his alma mater during the offseason—with one exception.
"They just want more autographs now," Cohen said Wednesday during the Bears' voluntary minicamp at Halas Hall. "They didn't really want the autographs beforehand. I think they want to sell it, but they're still cool though."
Given how well Cohen performed last year, it's easy to understand why his signature is in such great demand. The dynamic running back became the first NFL rookie to produce a touchdown on a rush, reception, pass and punt return in a single season since Bears Hall of Famer Gale Sayers in 1965 and the first NFL player to do so since Terry Metcalf in 1975.
The Bears practiced together for the first time Tuesday on day-one of the three-day voluntary minicamp inside the Walter Payton Center.
Cohen displayed tremendous versatility and the same dazzling moves that earned him the nickname "The Human Joystick" in college. He 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. He also threw a 21-yard TD pass to tight end Zach Miller in a win over the Ravens.
Yet despite those accomplishments, the fourth-round draft pick remains far from satisfied.
"I just have this attitude like I don't really feel like I've done anything yet," Cohen said. "I wasn't in the Pro Bowl, really not like a definite household name yet, so I feel like I have a lot more to prove. I didn't have any 1,000-yard season in any phase of the game, so I feel like I have a lot more to do."
Cohen appears primed to build on last season's success in a creative new offense designed by first-year coach Matt Nagy and coordinator Mark Helfrich.
"I like the zone schemes, inside zone running, RPOs (run-pass options), I really like doing those," Cohen said. "It's mainly what I did in college. That's really how I got all my yards in college."
Nagy is excited about taking advantage of Cohen's playmaking ability and versatility.
"He's a run threat and then he can catch the ball in space in broken formations," Nagy said. "For us, that's an advantage for the play-callers and the play designers to be able to do some different things and move him around and try to get an advantage. He's dynamic and then you get a kid that is really smart."
Cohen spent part of the offseason back at North Carolina A&T honing his route-running skills in 7-on-7 drills. Entering his second season, he's determined to improve all aspects of his game.
"He has the ability to be really good, and he knows that," Nagy said. "But he's young, and he's got a lot to learn. We're going to teach him everything we can and move him around, do different things. That's not a secret. So how do we get him to where we want him to be by the time the season starts? [That] is what we need to do as coaches."