GREEN BAY - On the first play of the game Thursday night, Chicago Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan dragged Green Bay Packers running back Ty Montgomery to the ground, and defensive end Akiem Hicks fell on top of them.
It was a clean hit, unlike the head shot Trevathan leveled against Packers receiver Davante Adams in the third quarter. But it also was destructive.
Trevathan’s knee dug into Montgomery’s left rib cage, and Hicks’ 332 pounds provided significantly more force.
“He was kind of lodged into my ribs,” Montgomery said Tuesday, “and then the defensive tackle landed full body weight on him. It was like a hammer-and-nail situation. His knee was hammered into my rib cage.”
Montgomery said the collision broke multiple ribs. He struggled to get up after the play, needing assistance from both right guard Jahri Evans and center Corey Linsley, then held his left side as he returned to the backfield.
The Packers gave Montgomery the football four times over the next five plays. He gained 23 yards on those carries with broken ribs, including 3 yards on a third-and-1. Montgomery finally left the game when Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller knocked him out of bounds after a 5-yard carry to the left.
“I just felt it moving and clicking,” Montgomery said of his ribs, “and then I was like, ‘That’s not right.’ And I came out.”
It would seem unlikely Montgomery could play Sunday at the Dallas Cowboys. Running backs, in particular, have to overcome a lot of pain to play with broken ribs. They are hit every time they carry the football.
But Montgomery did carry four times in his next five plays after Trevathan’s knee hammered into his side. So maybe it shouldn’t be surprising the Packers' running back said he’s preparing to play Sunday.
“I’m going into this week as if I’m going to play,” Montgomery said.
There are barriers he’ll have to clear before being on the field, of course. Montgomery said he is not willing to jeopardize his long-term health for one game. But if it’s a matter of pain threshold, with no chance of further injury, he expects to at least try to take snaps.
Montgomery said he never has played with broken ribs before, so he doesn’t know what kind of pain awaits him if he’s on the field in Dallas. He said he hasn’t spoken with receiver Jordy Nelson yet but might later this week. Nelson played through broken ribs in last season’s NFC Championship game in Atlanta, finishing with six catches for 67 yards and one touchdown, but he had two weeks to rest after missing the NFC divisional playoff game in Dallas.
And the challenge for a running back playing through broken ribs might be even tougher because of more consistent contact.
This wasn't the first time Montgomery broke his ribs. Barely a minute into the second half of the NFC Championship game, he took a hard hit from Falcons safety Keanu Neal. Montgomery did not return for the rest of the game.
Montgomery needed a couple weeks to heal before he could begin his offseason workouts. He said he broke different ribs Thursday than in January, but the injury happened on the same (left) side.
If Montgomery is unable to play, the Packers might have Jamaal Williams on the field. The rookie backup running back said he might play Sunday after injuring his knee against the Bears.
But Montgomery was not ruling out being on the field Sunday.
“I’m going to continue to get treatment,” Montgomery said. “We’re going to talk about a plan as far as what type of protection I can wear. Obviously, there are rib cages and flak jackets. We’re going to talk about it.”