CHARLOTTE – D'Onta Foreman told reporters before the Tampa Bay game that he'd look to take advantage of the opportunity in front of him in Christian McCaffrey's absence.
McCaffrey had taken the bulk of carries through the season's first six weeks before he was traded to San Francisco Thursday night. Stepping in for a workhorse back wasn't new to Foreman, who performed well in place of an injured Derrick Henry with the Titans last year (566 rushing yards and three touchdowns).
Foreman was slated to be part of a committee approach on the ground against the Buccaneers, but he was clearly the committee chairman in the Panthers' 21-3 win Sunday.
"Man, it was great," Foreman said. "Like I said earlier in the week, I believe each and every guy in this locker room. I believe in this team and the hard work we put in through OTAs to training camp to now. All the ups and downs we've been through, all the negative talk, man, we've just got to come in here and keep fighting, keep working hard, keep believing."
Foreman paced Carolina's season-best rushing total, with 118 of the Panthers' 173 yards on the ground. He catalyzed a third-quarter touchdown drive that helped move the game further out of Tampa Bay's reach, bursting ahead for 60 yards and shedding defenders along the way.
That 60-yard run, the longest of Foreman's career, set up Chuba Hubbard's 17-yard touchdown on the next play.
He had only carried the ball 12 times across five games this season before the Tampa Bay game, when he had 15 attempts. Hubbard carried the ball nine times for 63 yards. Rookie Raheem Blackshear took the first two carries of his NFL career, though he didn't generate positive yardage, finishing the day at minus-5 yards.
"(Foreman) was a major boost," Wilks said. "As we talked about before, it was going to be by committee. I thought all those guys did a great job. Blackshear came in there, and he got his first run. I'm very proud of the game plan that we had offensively."
Tight end Ian Thomas, whose locker is right beside Foreman's, said he had faith his "locker mate" would have a breakthrough type of performance. Against Tampa Bay, he did just that.
"He's a dog, and he just showed it," Thomas said. "He does that every day. He did that where he came from, so it's just normal for him. It showed today, and everybody's probably surprised by it, but that's just him. Guys had to step up and show what they had that people didn't know."
And Foreman said he hopes to continue to build upon the new chance he has been given in Carolina.
"This game is about opportunities, and creating opportunities for yourself," he said. "When your number is called, you've got to be ready to go and put your best foot forward. I feel like I've been waiting all season for an opportunity. Once you get them, you just have to capitalize. I was ready to go today, and moving forward, I will be ready to go."
Check out the celebration photos of the Panthers after their 21-3 win over the Buccaneers.