Bears

Tarik Cohen channels his ‘inner Mitch’ to throw a TD, match a guy named Wee Willie Smith

Tarik Cohen channels his ‘inner Mitch’ to throw a TD, match a guy named Wee Willie Smith

BALTIMORE — The thought crossed Tarik Cohen’s mind as he wound up to throw to an open Zach Miller: Could I be the shortest person to ever throw a touchdown in NFL history?

Not quite. But the 5-foot-6 Cohen was the shortest player to throw a touchdown since Wee Willie Smith, a former defensive back and tailback for the New York Giants, threw one in 1934.

“Wee Willie? Shout-out to Wee Willie,” Cohen said, upon being told of that information. “I’m Wee ‘Rik.”

The Bears took a 10-3 lead on Cohen’s 21-yard floater to Miller, the latest trick play deployed by offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains since Mitchell Trubisky took over as starting quarterback in Week 5. Cohen became the first Bears running back since Adrian Peterson in 2007 to throw a touchdown, too.

Cohen said he threw for four touchdowns in college at North Carolina A&T, though the statistics from that school show he threw for two. FCS stats are sometimes spotty; either way, the point is he’s done this before. And it makes sense: Cohen’s ability to be explosive on the edge means opposing defenses will sell out to stop him.

That’s what the Ravens did on Cohen’s touchdown. He read safety Eric Weddle crashing toward the line of scrimmage, so even though he couldn’t see Miller flashing open, he knew he would be. Cohen said he might’ve thrown the pass a little too high — “it was like a movie scene,” in slow motion, Cohen added — but hey, it still worked.

“It was a dime,” Cohen said. “I feel like I channeled my inner Mitch.”

So how did the Bears quarterback feel about Cohen’s throw?

“A-plus, on the money,” Trubisky said. “Dime ball. He’s awesome. I knew it was going to be a touchdown when it was called.”

With Leonard Floyd going on injured reserve, will the Bears have a pressing need at outside linebacker in 2018?

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USA TODAY

With Leonard Floyd going on injured reserve, will the Bears have a pressing need at outside linebacker in 2018?

The Bears placed Leonard Floyd on injured reserve Thursday morning, ending the second-year outside linebacker’s season following a knee injury suffered Sunday against the Detroit Lions. Floyd suffered an MCL and PCL injury and will have surgery in the next week, coach John Fox said, and the Bears do not have a timetable for his recovery yet. But that Floyd didn't suffer damage to his ACL is potentially good news for Floyd's recovery timetable. 

Still, with Floyd on injured reserve and out for the season, the Bears’ current outside linebacker depth chart consists of two veterans (Pernell McPhee and Sam Acho) and two practice squad signees (Isaiah Irving and Howard Jones). These final six games of the 2017 season could serve as auditions for all four players for roles on the 2018 Bears. 

If every team needs at least three good pass rushers, the Bears can count on Akiem Hicks and Floyd for 2018, provided Floyd comes back healthy. But who’s the third?

The Bears could save about $7.5 million in cap space if they release McPhee in 2018; if they were to cut ties with Willie Young, who’s on injured reserve right now as well, it would provide $4.5 million in cap relief. McPhee will be 29 in December, while Young will turn 33 next September. 

The Bears won’t necessarily need the cap relief next year, and could certainly decide to keep both players, who’ve shown they’re still productive when healthy. But even if both players are back, the Bears may need to add another outside linebacker via free agency of the draft — remember, the team could’ve began the season with Floyd, Young, McPhee, Acho and Lamarr Houston as their outside linebackers; an injury Houston suffered in the fourth preseason game ended his time in Chicago. 

Needs at wide receiver and cornerback are pressing, but outside linebacker may need to be in that same conversation. If the Bears have a top-10 pick for the fourth consecutive year, plus some cap space, they perhaps could have the ability to address all three needs in March and April. 

That may be looking a little too far into the future, though. The best-case for the Bears is McPhee finishes the season strong and Irving and/or Jones shows something in the opportunities they receive in these final six games (Jones, for what it’s worth, had five sacks as a rookie with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015). But the worst-case — and perhaps the most realistic — is that the Bears go into the offseason needing to fill at least one pass-rushing spot. 

Under Center Podcast: Can Mitch Trubisky follow Carson Wentz’s path to stardom?

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Under Center Podcast: Can Mitch Trubisky follow Carson Wentz’s path to stardom?

JJ Stankevitz and John “Moon” Mullin are joined by NBC Sports Philadelphia Eagles reporter Dave Zangaro to offer an encouraging connection between Carson Wentz’s growth and that of Mitchell Trubisky.

Check out the entire podcast here: