He emerged from the University of Texas after a 2,000-yard season. It took him several seasons in the NFL to begin to reach his potential. Last year, he did.
This year, running back D'Onta Foreman will try to parlay his late-season success with the Titans into consistent production for the Panthers.
He feared he had run out of chances in 2021 when the opportunity from the Titans came along. Not long before that, his father told Foreman it would be OK if football was over for him.
“I told him during that conversation, before that happened, that I would take any call for that year, but if I didn’t get a call that year, going into the next year, I’d be done,” Foreman told Darin Gantt of Panthers.com. “At that point, I felt like I wasn’t going to get any calls. So I was preparing my mind to be done. But once I got that call, that wasn’t one I was going to leave on the table.”
Foreman’s father didn’t get to see D’Onta get his latest chance — and to make the most of it. He died in a vehicular accident on October 15.
“He told me that no matter what, he was proud of me for what I had been through, everything I’ve done and accomplished,” Foreman told Gantt. “He told me he loved me regardless of whether I was playing football or not. . . . That gave me some peace in making my decision at the time. I knew I had to take advantage of any opportunity that might come.”
He did, going 566 yards on 133 carries, all of which came after Derrick Henry suffered a Week Eight foot injury that knocked him out for the balance of the regular season. It was enough to attract the attention of the Panthers, who need a reliable understudy to Christian McCaffrey.
“He finished really well last year,” Panthers G.M. Scott Fitterer recently told #PFTPM. “He’s a bigger back. Christian’s explosive. We have Chuba Hubbard here who’s dynamic. . . . We needed a bigger guy. We needed that hammer, and he brings something to our offense when you’re trying to finish a game when it’s a four-minute offense. Foreman’s got the ability to do that. We’ve seen this already on the practice field. He’s a pro out there. He runs everything. All of his runs he finishes on those. He catches the ball well. He’s picked up the offense quickly. . . . I thought we got good value for the amount that we’re paying him. If he can come here and help us that’d be great.”
It could be even greater for Foreman. If he continues to show he can be trusted in a supporting role, maybe he’ll eventually get a chance to be someone’s No. 1 option.