4 Panthers players who’ve impressed after early struggles in 2022

(Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images) Ikem Ekwonu
(Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images) Ikem Ekwonu /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) D’Onta Foreman /

D’Onta Foreman – Carolina Panthers RB

The Carolina Panthers brought in running back reinforcements in free agency to give themselves a contingency plan if Christian McCaffrey suffered more injury problems. D’Onta Foreman‘s ability to fill in for Derrick Henry on the Tennessee Titans seamlessly last season meant he was tailor-made for the role, with many anticipating a multi-back approach to keep their All-Pro fresh.

Carolina’s early struggles under Matt Rhule meant that the head coach leaned heavily on McCaffrey in one last-ditch attempt to save his job. This didn’t pay off, the former Baylor man was fired, and the Panthers even traded their best offensive weapon to the San Francisco 49ers for a solid draft haul.

This brought expectations down another notch. But Foreman’s performances since occupying the lead role make it even more bemusing that he wasn’t deployed sooner within Carolina’s scheme.

Foreman is a punishing back that has the ability to wear defenses down with the right volume. This is essential to the Panthers’ current game plan, which remains relatively one-dimensional under offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo.

When Foreman cannot get things going, that’s when problems arise. If the running back by committee approach continues in 2023, then it should result in the former Texas standout getting a new deal in Carolina.