Bears finish off first look at 2015 rookies


Bears finish off first look at 2015 rookies

It was only the final day of rookie minicamp, i.e., orientation, but Kevin White gave a brief preview of what may be coming.

The wide receiver and No. 7 pick of the draft broke free in the secondary as tryout quarterback Patrick Devlin lofted a 30-yard spiral White’s way down the right sideline. White laid out to make a diving, rolling catch that put an exclamation point on his first time in a Chicago Bears helmet.

[MORE BEARS: Kevin White faces stiff rookie expectations from Bears, NFL]

Whether coaches wanted quite that much effort out of their new prospects might be a question, but “[the rookies] did a great job,” coach John Fox said after Sunday’s final minicamp session.

“I thanked them for their efforts and the way they conducted themselves. They were really good all throughout the building, spending 12 hours a day here.”

Halas Hall will return to work with Bears veterans and others under contract on Monday, pointing toward organized team activities starting the last week of this month, a mandatory minicamp in mid-June and training camp at the end of July.

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The drills this weekend were for more than just the players.

“These have been good practices for us, just how we run practice, whether it’s the equipment men or the training staff, it’s just different,” Fox said. “Everybody does it different and we’re not any different than that, so [we are] practicing practicing.”

Bears backfield ranked fourth-best in NFL

Bears backfield ranked fourth-best in NFL

The Chicago Bears have a really good problem in their backfield. Both Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen will demand touches in 2018 and are each starting-quality running backs. Howard is the more traditional first and second-down back while Cohen offers top-tier playmaking ability.

The duo is so talented that they were recently ranked the fourth-best backfield in the NFL.

The Chicago Bears' Jordan Howard has emerged as one of the NFL's top rushers. He finished his rookie season with 1,313 yards, second-most in the NFL. Last season, he rushed for 1,122 yards and 4.1 yards per carry even though Chicago had the league's least threatening passing attack (175.7 yards per game).

Howard isn't the only standout back on the roster, though. Tarik Cohen is a supremely talented runner and receiver and a perfect complement to Howard. Last season, he amassed 370 rushing yards, 53 receptions and 353 receiving yards.

The Bears' backfield was behind only the Rams, Saints and Chiefs.

Howard set Chicago's rookie rushing record with 1,313 yards in 2016 and became the first Bears running back to start his career with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. He should be the Bears' primary back, but coach Matt Nagy expressed genuine excitement over Cohen's skill set which suggests he plans on getting him the ball quite a bit this season.

Regardless of how the touches play out, the Bears will present opposing defenses with one of the most challenging ground games in the NFL.

    Tarik Cohen was NFL's best big-play RB in 2017

    Tarik Cohen was NFL's best big-play RB in 2017

    Tarik Cohen's rookie season with the Chicago Bears was an impressive blend of running, receiving and special teams play. He quickly became a household name. The combination of his diminutive frame and oversized personality made him a fan favorite, especially when he started gaining yards in chunks.

    In fact, of all running backs with a minimum of 80 carries last season, Cohen had the highest percentage of runs that went for 15 or more yards, according to Pro Football Focus.

    Cohen will have a big role in new coach Matt Nagy's offense this season because of everything he offers a play-caller. He's a weapon as a receiver out of the backfield and can chew up yards on the ground like any traditional running back. He's a hold-your-breath talent who can turn a bad play into a touchdown in the blink of an eye.

    Cohen had 370 rushing yards, 353 receiving yards and three offensive touchdowns in what can be described as a limited role last year. John Fox and Dowell Loggains didn't seem to ever figure out how to best use Cohen's skill set. That should be no issue for Nagy and Mark Helfrich, the team's new offensive coordinator, who both bring a creative offensive approach to Chicago.

    Jordan Howard will be the starter and will do most of the heavy lifting. But Cohen is going to have a much bigger role than he had as a rookie, and that should result in more big plays and points on the board.