By design, the Green Bay Packers were targeting their rookie receiver on the first play of Sunday’s game.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers got the matchup he wanted. A fake handoff pulled the defense to the left, away from the play. Ty Montgomery, a third-round pick in May, had San Francisco 49ers cornerback Tramaine Brock beat by a step, maybe two.
The throw was perfect, hitting Montgomery in the hands. Then it hit the ground.
“It’s the one that got away,” Montgomery said after the game. “That’s it. It’s the one that got away. I had the move on. Yeah, it sucked. I hate doing that. That was a potential touchdown.”
Missed opportunities are never good for a rookie. Rodgers joked about Montgomery apologizing on the sideline, clearly disappointed he didn’t make the catch. Still, the play showed how far Montgomery has come in his first month, and what the Packers quarterback and coaching staff think of their rookie.
After playing one offensive snap in the Packers’ opener at the Chicago Bears, Montgomery’s playing time has increased each week. He played 74 of the team’s 75 snaps Sunday, an increased role with second-year receiver Davante Adams inactive because of an ankle injury.
The Packers have also become increasingly creative with how they’ve used Montgomery. He debuted in the backfield on Sunday, lining up at running back and carrying the football twice for 10 yards.
“Ty Montgomery is a four-down football player,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said, “and that's something we always liked about him from the time he was drafted out of Stanford. The fact that you can play him the backfield, the return game, and I think he's done some really good things at receiver too. Ty is getting better each and every week.”
It was fitting that Sunday represented Montgomery’s most significant playing time early in his rookie season. In the Bay Area, the Stanford native was able to get reacquainted with friends and family before the game.
After kickoff, he showcased his versatility. Along with his two carries, Montgomery had three catches for 15 yards. Packers offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett said Montgomery will continue to get opportunities during games.
“Extremely versatile,” Bennett said, “and we knew that going into when we were very fortunate to draft him. His ability to line up in the backfield, to play in the slot, to play outside gives you quite a few options and as you know this game is about matchups and anytime you have a player of that caliber putting him in different positions to make plays, it bodes well for the offense.”
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