WESTFIELD, Ind. — D’Onta Foreman hopped on a plane late Monday night and landed in Indianapolis around 1 a.m. Tuesday. After filling out some necessary paperwork, he was in bed within an hour.
About four hours later, Foreman woke up and reported for his first day of work at the Grand Park Events Center in Westfield, Ind. And not long after that, he was taking part in his first official practice with the Indianapolis Colts.
NFL players understand that their lives can change in an instant. That’s been especially true for Foreman, who had spent his entire college career, as well as the first two-plus seasons of his professional career, playing not far from his hometown of Texas City, Texas.
On Sunday, he was placed on waivers by the Houston Texans, the team that selected him in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft. The next day, he learned he’d be headed to the AFC South Division rival Colts.
Talk about a whirlwind experience.
“Didn't really get much sleep last night. Everything’s been kind of moving so fast for me,” Foreman told reporters after Tuesday’s practice. “But it's new for me. I'm trying to embrace everything, and just trying to be a great player, a great sport with everything that's going on today.”
Foreman burst onto the national scene at the University of Texas, where he finished eighth in the Heisman Trophy voting in 2016. That year, he collected 2,028 rushing yards and was named a consensus First-Team All-American, becoming the first Texas running back to accomplish that feat since Ricky Williams in 1998.
When he was picked by the Texans, he would have the luxury of living and playing less than an hour from his hometown. He played in 10 games in Houston his rookie season, running the ball 78 times for 327 yards and one touchdown, but suffering an Achilles injury that would end his 2017 season, as well as most of 2018.
Foreman said suffering that injury, right when things seemed to be clicking, was a “depressing time.”
“It was very difficult,” he said. “Me being the guy that loved to play football, and also always at home in Houston, a lot of my family wanted to see me play.”
Foreman was activated off the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform list in early December last year, and was active for the Texans’ Week 16 game against the Philadelphia Eagles, as well as their Wild Card Round playoff loss to the Colts.
He headed into training camp this year healthy and hoping to win the starting job in the Texans’ backfield. But on Sunday, the team told him it was going in a different direction.
Foreman thinks it could be “probably one of the best things that’s happened to me.”
“The Texans alluded to me having a fresh start,” Foreman said. “I mean at the end of the day, it was the first start for me. I never played outside of Texas, never played on the team more than three hours away from my hometown. So, me being way out here, it's definitely different for me, definitely a different vibe from Houston.
“Things didn't work out with Houston, but I'm here now, great organization, great people, great vibes, and I'm looking forward to being here.”
With the Colts, Foreman will get an opportunity to get plenty of carries the rest of training camp and in the team’s four preseason games to see where he might fit. The team has an established starter in Marlon Mack, as well as more of a third-down back in Nyheim Hines, but there are carries to be had behind those two runners.
Head coach Frank Reich said he’s looking forward to seeing Foreman respond to his new opportunity.
“You know, Chris (Ballard) and his staff obviously have some good research on this guy, so we’ll bring him in here and take a look,” Reich said. “He’s like everybody else — all our players — this is all (a) day-to-day deal, now. We’ve got to prove it every day, so looking forward to getting him in here and seeing what he’s all about, and it’ll be a good opportunity for him.”
At 6-foot-1 and 236 pounds, Foreman already brings a different build to the Colts’ running backs room — “As I can see, look like I'm the biggest back right now on the team,” he said with a smile Tuesday — but he’s hoping to use that size to his advantage over the next few weeks.
“Physical style,” Foreman said when asked what he brings to the table. “And then just me coming out here grinding hard, trying to push everybody, and also just trying to find a way to push myself. This is a different environment, so I just got to find a way to fit in, and make the best of it.”