INDIANAPOLIS – With a young running back group poised to build off a strong rookie season, one of the more interesting subplots this offseason is where the Green Bay Packers decide to use versatile playmaker Ty Montgomery.
A year ago, Montgomery was slated to be the Packers' starting running back entering the fall. Injuries limited Montgomery to just eight games. His season ended in early December when a wrist injury sent him to injured reserve.
Meanwhile, the rookie duo of Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones took off in 2017. They figure to be the Packers' top two running backs this fall, making Montgomery’s future uncertain.
“Ty’s a multiple-position player,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Wednesday at the NFL scouting combine.
That leaves open the possibility Montgomery will rep more at receiver than he did last year. It’s the position the Packers drafted him to play in the third round of 2015.
Montgomery’s position could change week to week depending on his team’s needs.
“Ty is a very, very versatile player,” general manager Brian Gutekunst said. “He can do a lot of things. I think having a guy like that, we can kind of plug him in where we need him. I thought he was an outstanding running back. Making that transition is not an easy one, and I thought he did it fairly quickly.
“I think we’re big on trying to acquire as many versatile players — whether it be on offense or defense — as we can, and Ty is one of those guys. So I think he can do a multitude of things. I don’t think you have to pigeon-hole him in one thing.”
It won’t matter where Montgomery plays if he can’t stay healthy. In three seasons, he has played more than eight games only once. His rookie season also ended prematurely with a trip to injured reserve.
McCarthy said staying on the field — regardless of his position — will be key moving forward.
“His challenge has been availability,” McCarthy said. “He’s had availability issues every year. But he’s established himself as a multiple-position player. I think he’s really gotten better in his natural run instinct. Obviously, what he can do in and out of the backfield is at a high level, and he’s an outstanding special teams player as well.
“And the two young guys (Williams and Jones), they don’t have it figured out, either. They both had to fight through injuries to play. That’s why you need more than three running backs.”
Bulaga update: So far, all reports on right tackle Bryan Bulaga’s recovery from a torn ACL have been positive, McCarthy said.
Bulaga is rehabbing his right knee at IMG Academy in Florida, the same place where he recovered from a torn ACL in his left knee in 2013. The second torn ACL of his career came in early November, ending Bulaga’s 2017 season. It’s almost impossible to imagine Bulaga would be able to participate in training camp.
Still, McCarthy said team doctor Patrick McKenzie was optimistic about Bulaga’s recovery when they spoke earlier this week.
“So far, everything looks good,” McCarthy said. “It’s been all positive feedback.”
The Packers are dealing with several other injuries, including cornerback Damarious Randall’s recovery from hand surgery last month. McCarthy said everything is going well on the injury front.
“We’re having a good offseason,” McCarthy said.