FOXBORO — As the Patriots make final preparations for Sunday’s matchup against the Texans, they’ll keep an eye on rookie running back D’Onta Foreman. It won’t be the first time they’ve taken a look at him.
Foreman, a big back out of Texas, appears to be pushing Lamar Miller for the Texans’ starting job. Bill Belichick said Friday that the Pats worked heavily with him leading up to the draft.
“I spent quite a bit of time with him at Texas last spring,” Belichick said, likening Foreman to a LeGarette Blount type who can also contribute as a pass-catching back.
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The Patriots didn’t like (or need) Foreman enough to draft him in the third round, where he was chosen. They had three cracks at him in the third round (at No. 72, where they traded down, and then at Nos. 83 and 85) and passed all three times.
Instead of taking Foreman with one of the picks, they came away with Derek Rivers at No. 83 and Antonio Garcia at No. 85. The Texans grabbed Foreman at No. 89.
When the teams met in the preseason, Foreman rushed for only 17 yards on seven carries, but had a rushing touchdown and 66 receiving yards on two catches, one of which went for 63 yards.
“He's an impressive guy. He can run through guys,” Belichick said. “He can run around them. He’s got good quickness in space, a good receiver. He’s a big back with some little back skills, so he's got a very good overall skill set. He can be used on all three downs, but he can get tough yards and he can be tough in space, as we saw in the preseason game.”
Of course, the Pats had already loaded their running back group by adding Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead to a crowded depth chart by then, so it’s no surprise they opted against taking a back with one of their first picks.
While there wasn’t a spot for Foreman in New England, the opportunity seems plentiful in Houston. He received just one carry in Houston’s season-opener but cut into Miller’s workload with 12 carries in last week’s win over the Bengals.
With fellow rookie Deshaun Watson making his second NFL start at quarterback, the Texans may have to rely on the running game more than usual Sunday. If that means more touches for Foreman, the Pats will at least know who they’re dealing with.