D’Onta Foreman came onto the Texans in the 2017 season with a lot of hype, fresh off a tremendous junior season at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook ’em Horns). This junior season included 2,028 rushing yards, 15 rushing touchdowns, and a first-place finish for the Doak Walker Award, which honors the best running back in college football.
On top of all these accolades, Foreman also was a Consesus All-American and received the Earl Cambell Tyler Rose Award, that awarded the best offensive player in college football. All of this led to Foreman being drafted by the Texans with the 89th overall pick in 2017.
But all of this success that Foreman had was soon followed by tragic loss when his infant son, D’Onta Jr., died on November 5, 2016 due to an intestinal infection that arose after a premature birth. As he was coping with the pain of losing a child, Foreman was arrested for possessing marijuana and carrying an unlawful weapon on July 16, 2017.
This tumultuous offseason for Foreman, that involved the highs and lows of losing a son, being drafted by the Texans, and getting arrested all led up to his first season with the Houston Texans. This season wouldn’t be easy, as Foreman had to compete with the likes of Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue for playing time and a spot on the roster.
Foreman had a lot to prove coming into training camp, and prove himself he did. In the Texans’ first preseason game versus the Carolina Panthers, everyone had their eyes geared towards eighth overall pick out of Stanford and Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey. But everyone soon turned their attention towards Foreman, who ran nine times for 76 yards. For reference, McCaffrey ran seven times for 33 yards.
In sum, Texas native ran for 91 yards and a touchdown, and caught four passes for 72 yards, over just two preseason games. Foreman’s preseason performance led to him beating out Alfred Blue for the #2 role behind Lamar Miller, but he didn’t stop there.
While many players don’t carry preseason success into the regular season, Foreman continued to be a productive running back for the Texans, leading all Texans running backs with 4.2 yards per rush and 13.8 yards per catch. This explosiveness was offset by the fact that Foreman had two fumbles, which also led Texans running backs.
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But luckily for Foreman, Miller was having arguably the worst season of his career, with a career-low 3.7 yards per rush, which gave room for Foreman to have more opportunities. And in his final two games of the season, it looked like he may even run away with the job, starting in Week 10 and then rushing for 65 yards and two touchdowns on ten carries in Week 11 against a stout Arizona Cardinals defensive front.
Sadly, that outstanding Week 11 performance would be cut short, with Foreman suffering a torn achilles after his second touchdown. This injury would cause Foreman to miss the rest of the 2017 season, and left the door open for Alfred Blue, who eventually carved out a large role for himself over the final weeks of the season.
With Foreman and Blue carving out their own roles over the 2017 season, and Lamar Miller losing his own, the Texans backfield is shaping up to be a running back by committee in 2018, and I believe Foreman will be the running back to separate himself from the rest in his sophomore year.
Foreman’s game against the Cardinals gave many Texans fans, and better yet head coach Bill O’Brien, optimism for the future of his career. With the loss of Arian Foster, and now the decline of Lamar Miller, Texans fans are yearning for another back that be consistently fed the ball and carry the offense.
Foreman fits this role to a tee, receiving a tremendous 323-carry workload his junior year at Texas, and he’s proven at the college and professional level that he can produce results with those carries. One of the main issues with Foreman is his mediocre pass blocking ability, which is something many scouts pointed out before draft day. If Foreman can work on his pass blocking, he could be the workhorse running back the Texans have been looking for.
— Longhorn Network (@LonghornNetwork) December 28, 2017
While I would advocate for a different running back to play on third-down situations until Foreman improves his pass blocking, he is only 21 years old and has a lot of time to become someone who can protect the quarterback. Foreman has proved time after time, in college and the pro level, that he can be the running back whom the Texans need; all they need to do is hand him the reigns.