GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Ty Montgomery still wears the old No. 88 on his jersey, but he has a new locale at Lambeau Field.
His move to running back was completed this offseason -- not with a number change but rather a new spot in the Green Bay Packers' locker room. Montgomery moved a dozen or so stalls down the aisle to a bank of lockers the running backs call home.
It was bye-bye Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams. Montgomery now sits between rookie running backs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. Fullback Aaron Ripkowski is a couple of lockers away.
“It’s good for him to be over there with his running backs,” Nelson said. “We obviously still see him quite a bit. It’s weird to think he’s in Year 3, and he’s the oldest guy in the [running back] room. He’s very mature for his age, and he’s going to be a good leader in there and help bring those young guys along and show them the right way to do things.”
In some ways, Montgomery feels like he’s coming off his rookie season. The third-round pick from Stanford played receiver in 2015 and for the first month of last season before injuries tore up the Packers’ backfield of Eddie Lacy and James Starks. Although Montgomery carried more than 11 times just once in a game -- his career-high 16 carries netted 162 yards in a December victory at Chicago -- coach Mike McCarthy left no doubt that the former receiver was a full-time running back.
Now that Lacy is in Seattle and Starks is out of the NFL, the Packers’ running game will center around a player who has 80 career NFL carries. He still has more career receiving yards (484) than rushing yards (471).
At age 24, he’s the oldest player in running-back coach Ben Sirmans' room, which also includes three draft picks -- Williams (fourth round), Jones (fifth round) and Devante Mays (seventh round) -- but he might be the least experienced runner. Nevertheless, McCarthy proclaimed Montgomery as the starter shortly after the draft.
“These young guys are good football players,” Montgomery said after an OTA practice this week. “They’re really good running backs. They’ve got more experience at the running-back position than I do.”
Still, Montgomery excelled last season in perhaps the least-expected area for a converted receiver.
“You really don't realize how many tackles he broke last year,” Sirmans said this week.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Montgomery averaged 3.27 yards per rush after first contact. That was the highest in the NFL last season by any back with more than 70 carries.
“You really don't think of a guy -- I know he's close to 220 -- but as a receiver you don't imagine a guy being able to break that many arm tackles or getting hit and still running,” Sirmans said. “He actually at the end of the day did a really good job, and you can see it as an instinctive runner, you can see all those things come into play. So I'm really excited about him, especially now that he has a full offseason to train.”
Montgomery spent the first part of his offseason training in Texas, where for a change he didn’t worry about his weight. He always tried to play at less than 220 pounds when he was a receiver and he counted every calorie to make sure of it.
“I didn’t try to keep my weight down,” Montgomery said. “Playing receiver, I had to always try to stay light, and it took my effort to stay light than to hover around 220 like I naturally do.”
Still, Montgomery looks much the same as he did last season, right down to the receiver jersey number that he discovered this offseason that he could keep.
“It’s who I am,” Montgomery said of the No. 88. “It’s me. It’s been my number, and if I don’t have to change it, why should I?”
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