After all he’s been through, Chicago Bears RB D’Onta Foreman isn’t fazed by dual backfield

Foreman thought about quitting football after father’s death in 2021

LAKE FOREST – D’Onta Foreman was about ready to give up. Two months into the 2021 season, it felt like his football career was over.

The former third-round draft pick of the Houston Texans in 2017 had seen his career derailed by injuries. The running back was 10 games into a promising rookie season when he tore his Achilles tendon. The injury caused him to miss the remainder of 2017 and all but one game in 2018.

The Texans cut him in 2019 and he briefly joined the Colts for training camp before a torn bicep ended his 2019 season. A stint with the Titans as Derrick Henry’s backup in 2020 was a boost, but the team didn’t keep him around after the season. Foreman signed with the Falcons in 2021, but was cut prior to the regular season.

For the next two months, he was out of a job.

“I felt like I was kind of over it,” Foreman told Shaw Local.

Foreman’s 47-year-old father, Darreck Foreman, died on Oct. 10 of that year in a truck accident outside their hometown of Texas City, Texas. The running back remembered telling his dad just before his death that he would take advantage of any opportunity that came his way.

In a strange twist of fate, the Titans called less than a month later. Henry was injured, out for the remainder of the season. They needed a running back.

Foreman rushed for 566 yards and three touchdowns in nine games. His strong end of the season earned him a one-year, $2 million contract with the Carolina Panthers last season. When the Panthers traded away Christian McCaffrey mid-season, Foreman became the lead back. He averaged 79.7 rushing yards per game over the final 11 games of the season and finished the year with more than 900 rushing yards. The Panthers went 6-5 over those final 11 games, even after trading away their franchise running back.

A year earlier, after all those injuries and the death of his father, he could only imagine the success he would have.

“Everything I said that I would be able to do if I got an opportunity like that, I did it,” Foreman said. “I still feel like today, people still don’t give me enough credit. I feel like people still look at me and feel like whatever, but I’ve been in this situation so many times in my life. I’ve been doubted so many times in my life to where it’s just something that motivates me to show you.”

Now, after signing a one-year, $2 million deal with the Bears in March, Foreman has a chance to emerge as a lead back once again.

The Bears allowed former running back David Montgomery to walk away in free agency. They signed Foreman to take his spot and team up with returning back Khalil Herbert in the backfield. Herbert totaled 731 rushing yards and four touchdowns in 13 games last season.

The Bears appear to be heading for a shared backfield with those two backs. When the coaches looked at Foreman, they saw a back who performed.

“Here’s a guy that has endured and been in a lot of different situations and has come through all of those situations,” running backs coach David Walker said. “So I don’t look at that as a negative. I look at that as a positive. I look at that as a guy that’s overcome adversity in his career and is still here. When he got his chance last year, he was extremely productive.”

“Here’s a guy that has endured and been in a lot of different situations and has come through all of those situations. So I don’t look at that as a negative.”

—  David Walker, Bears running backs coach

Foreman was clear when he signed with the team in March: He’s coming here to play. Both running backs are going to have to earn their reps. Rookie fourth-round pick Roschon Johnson could also be in the mix for reps at the position.

“We’ll let that play out,” Bears head coach Matt Eberflus said. “We’re doing a lot of equal reps right now between those two guys, and of course we got [Johnson] in there that might make a move too. It’s great. It’s always about competition between those guys.”

Last year, the first under Eberflus, Montgomery remained the lead back, but Herbert still carried the ball a lot. Montgomery had 201 carries, Herbert 129 (in three fewer games). Even with what the Bears hope will be a more dynamic passing attack, this is a team that still wants to have a run-first mentality.

The hope is that Foreman and Herbert can be effective enough to take some pressure of quarterback Justin Fields. The Bears don’t want their QB to carry such a high rushing load.

Foreman is going to use the same approach he did in Tennessee and Carolina. Last season, was a confidence boost, and it was validation. He knows he can do it again.

“It gave me a lot of reassurance of who I am as a person and what I can do as a person,” Foreman said. “Me as a person and the way I’ve grown, putting in the work each and every day when a lot of people counted me out. I just blocked out the noise and kept grinding and kept going.”

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for the Shaw Local News Network. He has covered the Bears since 2020. Prior to writing about the Bears, he covered high school sports for the Northwest Herald and contributed to Friday Night Drive. Sean joined Shaw Media in 2016.