Numbers favor Ty Montgomery at running back

Tom Silverstein
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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Green Bay Packers wide receiver Ty Montgomery (88) runs through a hold in the line against the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field, Sunday, December 11, 2016.

GREEN BAY – If he could, Ty Montgomery would change his uniform number.

But NFL rules state that you can’t change numbers in the middle of the season and so Montgomery will continue to wear No. 88 for the Green Bay Packers.

Just in case you’re not aware, it's unusual because, according to coach Mike McCarthy, the second-year pro officially is no longer a receiver.

“Ty Montgomery is a running back,” McCarthy said at his Monday news conference. “So I don’t know where that gets lost. ... But, Ty, he’s a running back. I apologize for not making an announcement. He hasn’t gone to a receiver meeting in months.”

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The finality of the switch may mean more to fantasy football owners than it does to McCarthy or Montgomery, but it’s still important to point out, Montgomery does line up as a receiver from out of the backfield and could play receiver if the Packers were to suffer some injuries. He played receiver last season and early in this one, but was moved into the backfield when Eddie Lacy was lost for the season and James Starks got hurt.

Now Montgomery is the third-leading rusher on the team behind Lacy (360 yards) and Aaron Rodgers (295).

“I used to joke in college (Stanford) and even when I got here a little bit, I’m a running back that learned how to play receiver,” Montgomery said. “And then who would’ve thought I ended up in the running back room.”

Montgomery has carried 44 times for 228 yards (5.2 average) and a touchdown. In addition, he has 35 catches for 313 yards (8.9) and 13 kickoff returns for 288 yards (22.2).

In the 38-10 victory Sunday over Seattle, he carried only nine times, which hardly constitutes a true lead back’s normal workload. Newcomer Christine Michael carried more times despite playing only 17 snaps to Montgomery’s 30. McCarthy is in a phase now where he’s playing lots of people on offense and doesn’t seem locked in on one guy despite Montgomery’s production.

“You have to play all those guys,” McCarthy said. “James Starks can start. Ty can start. So I think the definition of starter is not who plays the first play of the game.

“There’s packages for everybody. I think we should be cognizant of the fact we’re a football team that’s gone through a lot of injuries. So we don’t just plan for one guy to be featured really at any position.”

At 6-foot, 216 pounds, Montgomery has the build of a power back. He doesn’t have blazing speed, but he seems to find creases and is hard to bring down once he gets moving forward. Starks might be more experienced and Michael quicker, but Montgomery brings a complete package to the table.

After the success Montgomery has had over the last two games – 142 yards from scrimmage total, 7.1 yards per touch – it’s hard to believe McCarthy won’t incorporate him more in some way or another. But he insists he's keeping an open mind.

“You have to play all your perimeter players and you have to create opportunities for all of them because games go in different directions,” McCarthy said. “I don’t know how the game’s going to go Sunday in Chicago.

“I have an idea how it may go, I know how I want to plan and play the game. We’ll have opportunities for all of our running backs.”

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