Why D'Onta Foreman should remain Bears' lead back even if Roschon Johnson returns

Why D'Onta Foreman should remain Bears' lead back even if Roschon Johnson returns originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- D'Onta Foreman waited patiently for his moment.

The veteran running back joined the Bears in the offseason with plans on asserting himself as the "lead back," 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 Roschon Johnson in the backfield.

Foreman didn't mope or complain. He kept receipts from all his doubters and stayed ready for when the Bears called his number.

After Herbert and Johnson were both injured in the Bears' Week 5 win over the Washington Commanders, Foreman's time to show the Bears and his detractors what he could do arrived.

As he has numerous times before in his career, Foreman capitalized on the opportunity presented.

Foreman has rushed for 158 yards and two touchdowns in the past two games while showing great vision, wiggle, explosiveness, and physicality.

“I’ve been in this position a lot in my life," Foreman said Wednesday when asked how he found quick success after being inactive for a month. "If you go back through the last three years, this has been my life. So I’ve just always kept the mindset that when you get your opportunity you got to go out there and capitalize on it. When you get it, try not to give it back. That’s my main focus, honestly.”

Foreman has done more than enough not to give it back.

While Herbert remains on injured reserve with an ankle injury, Johnson just has one more hurdle to clear to escape the concussion protocol and be active Sunday against the Chargers at SoFi Stadium.

Even if Johnson is back Sunday, Foreman has earned the right to keep the lead-back role. The production has been good, but it's Foreman's physical running style -- one that is helping give the Bears an offensive identity -- that is the main reason he should not slide down the depth chart.

"A lot," wide receiver DJ Moore said when asked what Foreman's style gives the offense. "He goes downhill. He ran somebody over when he was out of bounds, so I mean, he made a statement with that. He always makes the first guy miss, so he’s just trolling and trucks people with the ball. It’s fun to watch and see. That’s what you want to go out there and block for."

On the season, Foreman has 122 yards gained 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 NFL's best rushing team in 2022. It was the only thing the 3-14 team could hang its hat on. The 2023 Bears struggled to recapture that ground-and-pound success early in the season, but they seem to have found something with Foreman bludgeoning opposing defenses.

Just ask the Las Vegas Raiders, whom Foreman brutalized for 120 total yards and three touchdowns in the Bears' 30-12 win last Sunday.

"We just kicked their ass upfront," tight end Cole Kmet told NBC Sports Chicago after the game.

The Bears' offensive line dominated the Raiders in the trenches Sunday, feeding off Foreman's punishing rushing style.

“Maybe so. I can’t say that it isn’t. I can’t say that it is," Foreman said when asked if his physicality created an offensive identity. "But I will say that with me being out there I definitely do think my physicality brings energy to the team. They kind of feed off my energy when I’m going out there and doing what I do. Like I said, I just want to focus on getting better each week.”

Getting Johnson back will be a boon to the Bears' backfield, but Foreman has shown why the Bears went after him in free agency.

Foreman has the running game clicking, and with Tyson Bagent set to make his second career start Sunday, now is not the time to mess with a good thing.

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