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5-foot-6 'Big Daddy' Tarik Cohen sees versatile role with Bears

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Tarik Cohen's Best Day Ever (6:11)

HBCU football player gets drafted to the Chicago Bears (6:11)

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears rookie running back Tarik Cohen might have more nicknames than Shaquille O'Neal before long.

Called the "Human Joystick" in college for his ridiculous, change-of-direction moves, Cohen suggested a new nickname for himself, "Chicken Salad" -- for reasons unknown -- when he participated in a draft weekend conference call.

And after rookie minicamp wrapped up on Sunday, Cohen -- listed at 5-foot-6, 179 pounds -- mentioned "Big Daddy" as another acceptable moniker.

What Cohen lacks in size, he makes up for in confidence.

That’s been the story of Cohen’s football career, so much so, that Chicago's fourth-round pick has a ready-made reply for those worried about his frame.

"My response has just been, 'turn on the tape,' you know?" Cohen said.

Cohen's college tape at North Carolina AT&T showed him dominate the FCS level of competition; much to the delight of the Bears, who had been searching for a shifty, change-of-pace rusher to add to their backfield.

"That's kind of the unique thing about him, he's got a little bit of a chip [on his shoulder], and he handles it great," Bears coach John Fox said. "He looks at it as a challenge all the time, and I think he views himself about 6-foot-6."

Cohen finished his college career with eye-popping statistics. Over four years at North Carolina A&T, he rushed for 5,619 yards and 56 touchdowns. He also caught 98 passes for 945 receiving yards and three touchdowns out of the backfield.

"Some things shock me," Cohen said. "Turn on my college tape, sometimes I wonder, how did I get out of there? Most of the time when I’m out there, it’s a reaction. You can prepare yourself in practice, but practice is never going to be game simulated, it’s never going to be exactly how the game is. Most of the moves I do, the cut moves, stopping on a dime, it’s really reaction.

"[I know there will be] less cutback lanes [in the NFL]. So as many 80-yarders [as] I had in college, not going to get quite that many on this level. But I still think I could pop out a few here and there. The defense is way faster than the level I was at."

Fox thinks Cohen’s versatility makes him uniquely suited for a third-down role on offense.

"Well, he's a joker back," Fox said. "I think third down, it's just another matchup, this game's about matchups. We weren't nearly as successful as we needed to be on third down a year ago, so people call it a joker back. It's got a lot of different names, but you see similar roles around the league that we really haven't had."

On draft night, Cohen immediately drew comparisons to Darren Sproles -- Sproles and Chicago general manager Ryan Pace overlapped in New Orleans, but Cohen identifies more with Kansas City's triple-threat Tyreek Hill.

"I see myself as a Tyreek Hill-type of player, very versatile, do things in the slot and also out of the backfield, and then not to mention also the special teams," Cohen said.

"People have definitely doubted me, but at this level somebody’s faced doubt everywhere they’ve been. So that’s really not the main thing that’s motivating me, although it does and it definitely does with a major chip on my shoulder, because I’m one of the smallest guys on the team everywhere I’ve been. With that I feel it added fuel to the fire, added fuel to my motivation already."