LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Donta Foreman waited patiently for his moment.
The veteran running back joined the Bears in the offseason with plans to assert himself as a “backfield leader,” filling the void left by the departing David Montgomery. Instead, Foreman found himself inactive starting in Week 2 as the Bears decided to go with Khalil Herbert and rookie Roshon Johnson in the backfield.
Foreman didn’t get depressed or complain. He kept receipts from all the doubters and stayed prepared when the Bears called his number.
After injuries to both Herbert and Johnson in the Bears’ Week 5 win over the Washington Chiefs, it’s time for Foreman to show the Bears and his critics what he can do.
As he had done many times before in his career, Foreman took advantage of the opportunity.
Foreman has rushed for 158 yards and two touchdowns in the past two games while showing great vision, wiggle room, explosiveness and physicality.
“I’ve been in that position a lot in my life,” Foreman said Wednesday when asked how he found such quick success after being inactive for a month. “If you go back the last three years, this has been my life. So I’ve always kept the mindset that when you get your chance, you’ve got to go out there and take advantage of it. When you get it, try not to give it back. That’s my main focus, honestly.”
Foreman had done enough not to bring it back.
While Herbert remains on injured reserve with an ankle injury, Johnson has another hurdle to clear to escape the concussion protocol and be active Sunday against the Chargers at SoFi Stadium.
Even if Johnson returns on Sunday, Foreman has earned the right to retain the front-row linebacker role. The production has been good, but Foreman’s physical running style — a style that helps give the Bears an offensive identity — is the main reason he hasn’t slid down the depth chart.
“A lot,” wide receiver DJ Moore said when asked about Foreman’s offense-generating style. “He’s going downhill. He ran someone over when he was out of bounds, so I mean he made a statement with that. He’s always making the first guy miss, so he’s just trolling and charging people with the ball. It’s fun to watch.” And look. That’s what you want to get out and get banned for.”
On the season, Foreman gained 122 yards after contact. He is averaging 3.39 yards after contact per attempt and has forced eight missed tackles in the past two games.
The Bears were the best rushing team in the NFL in 2022. That was the only thing the 3-14 team could hang its hat on. The 2023 Bears have struggled to recapture that much success early in the season, but they appear to have found something with Foreman hitting opposing defenses.
Just ask the Las Vegas Raiders, who brutalized Foreman for 120 total yards and three touchdowns in the Bears’ 30-12 win last Sunday.
“We just kicked their ass,” Cole Kmet told NBC Sports Chicago after the game.
The Bears’ offensive line dominated the Raiders in the trenches on Sunday, taking advantage of Furman’s relentless rushing style.
“Maybe so. I can’t say it’s not. I can’t say that,” Foreman said when asked if his physicality has created an offensive identity. “But I will say that with me out there, I definitely think my physicality brings energy to the team. They kind of feed my energy when I get out there and do what I do. Like I said, I just want to focus on getting better every week.
Getting Johnson back would be a boon for the Bears’ backfield, but Foreman showed why the Bears are pursuing him in free agency.
Foreman has the running game, and with Tyson Baigent set to make his second career start on Sunday, this is not the time to mess with a good thing.
“Devoted travel trailblazer. Freelance beer scholar. Passionate analyst. Hardcore twitter fanatic.”