Packers RB Race: Ty Montgomery

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After two preseason games, the Packers running back competition is still in flux. Jamaal Williams had a minor ankle injury in Thursday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He should be fine going forward, but it does give Montgomery a chance to start the regular season as the top running back.

Ty made a crucial mistake, fumbling during his kickoff return. He simply didn’t protect the ball in time. He was starting to wrap it up, seeing three Steelers defenders in front of him, as a defender punched it out from behind. I’m not too concerned about this mistake, he’s proven he can return kicks in the past, and it has to be hard for established players to play a preseason game like it truly matters. True, he is fighting for playing time, and perhaps a roster spot at the end of the season, but he’s human.

Overall, he impressed me with his performance on offense this week. His length and athleticism just jump off the screen. The team has three very talented, young running backs, all of whom could give their team 1,000 yards if given the workload. There are real arguments to be made for all three backs, but whenever I see Ty make a quick cut up the field, I feel like he needs to be used as heavily as his body can handle.

He hasn’t been able to stay healthy since his move to the backfield, but I just can’t stop thinking about all the potential ways Aaron Rodgers can use him. First of all, Rodgers has thrown a lot of passes his way over the years, they have a Receiver-Quarterback relationship. Brady and his running backs have a similar connection, but there isn’t another receiver moved running back in the league.

I think the general consensus with Jamaal Williams is a hybrid power-elusive back. He can slide by you, or run over you, without having a Eddy Lacy body type. Basically, he can get to the second level, and outrun the defense. I view Montgomery to be the same type of running back.

Both running backs are listed at 6’0″ about 215 lbs. A good example of what Jamaal Williams can bring is his week one touchdown catch from Brett Hundley. The BYU all time leading rusher, caught the ball at the seven, heading towards the sideline, stopped his momentum, slid past a defender, before finally pushing up field and diving into the end zone between two defenders. That’s everything you can ask for out of your running back, make a play where there may not be a play.

Montgomery showed a lot of the same skills against the Steelers. Aaron Jones has the smoothest ability to cut the ball up field and find the hole. That being said, Montgomery is the best cutter in tight spots. He has elite vision, cutting the ball up field to get a couple extra yards multiple times on Thursday. The holes he had to hit, some players simply don’t attempt to hit. For instance Williams seemed to struggle last season, just trying to get what the defense was giving him early in the season. When the reigns were given to him due to injuries, Williams became a far more creative running back, carrying the Packers to some big wins down the stretch. But I still think he’s more prone to just run into the wall ahead of him. That’s not a bad thing, I’m just pointing out one thing Montgomery does that we may not be able to get out of the two second year running backs.

As always, I’m glad I don’t have the responsibility of deciding how to use all this talent, without hindering Aaron Rodgers. Montgomery is our best threat in the passing game, mixed with his ability to carry piles, I still think his game mixes with Rodger’s the best. I wouldn’t commit to him as the starter for the whole season, but I’d probably use Aaron Jones two game suspension to start the season as the Montgomery experiment. One last chance to prove himself as the top running back.

 

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