Bears players not surprised by Tarik Cohen's instant impact

Cohen has high upside after Week 1 (2:24)

Matthew Berry recaps Tarik Cohen's debut in week 1 and says picking him up as a free agent in your league could be beneficial. (2:24)

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears rookie running back Tarik Cohen is the embodiment of the slogan, "You play like you practice."

Many in the NFL were caught off guard by Cohen's exciting Week 1 debut against Atlanta, but not the Bears. Cohen has been one of Chicago's best practice players since the voluntary offseason program began back in the spring.

Veteran teammates took notice -- in a hurry.

"He's a high-energy guy ... he's a baller," Bears tight end Dion Sims said. "I knew that from day one when we saw him out there on the practice field. He's being consistent, which is the most important thing."

Atlanta witnessed Cohen's talents firsthand.

On one memorable play, Cohen reversed field on the Falcons' defense and cruised down the left sideline for 46 yards. He finished the game with 158 total rushing, receiving and punt return yards with one touchdown.

"During one-on-one matchups in practice -- it's ugly," Bears defensive lineman Akiem Hicks said. "You can hear the chatter, you know what I mean, going through training camp where guys get matched up on him are saying, 'Oh man, here we go.' And that's a great feeling, because know he's not torturing us anymore. He's torturing other defenses. I think he's going to be a good player and I look forward to seeing more of him in the future."

Almost immediately, Cohen became a fan favorite in the Bourbonnais, Illinois, portion of camp, wowing the crowd with his breakaway speed. Even in non-contact camp drills, Cohen's gift of shifting gears and accelerating past the second- and third-level defenders was evident.

"He makes cats miss left and right," Hicks said. "[There was one play when] Tarik caught a ball out in the flat and I knew instantly he was going to make the first guy miss. That's just the kind of quick-twitch guy he is. I've seen it a bunch. I've seen it one too many times in training camp. I can only imagine that he's going to be a special player in this league."

Going forward, Cohen should continue to have a heavy workload on game day -- he touched the ball 16 times against the Falcons. The key is mixing it up. Cohen ran the ball five time, returned three punts and was targeted 12 times (eight catches) in the passing game. He can line up all over the field and is even brave enough to go over the middle. The rookie took a couple vicious shots on Sunday, but bounced right up.

Not bad for a first-year player listed at 5-foot-6, 181 pounds.

"I think 5-foot-6 is a reach," Hicks laughed. "I'm not the governor on height, but I'm a pretty tall guy, so when I see guys, I'm like, 'Ok.' Everybody wants to be a little bit taller than they actually are. He's going to be vicious and at that stature, you're going to have to be vicious. You're going to have to be able to take a couple of hits and get up. And I think we all saw yesterday, he can take the hit and get up and go for the next play. And not only does he take the hit, but he takes the hit and he's juiced about it. I don't know if that says there's something wrong with him. But he likes it. He likes to have fun. He loves football."