Packers' running backs put best foot forward in Denver

Brett Hundley goes the distance in third preseason game


DENVER – Ty Montgomery needed only a single carry Saturday night to get the Packers running in the right direction.

With guard Lane Taylor pulling from the left side of the line, Montgomery sprung to the second level and made defensive end Adam Gotsis miss to break a 25-yard gain on the first play of Green Bay's second offensive series against the Denver Broncos.

The play not only went a long way in setting up the Packers' first scoring drive of the evening, but it also set the tone for what turned out to be the finest performance to date this preseason for the Packers' running backs.

Montgomery (three carries for 31 yards and a touchdown), fourth-round pick Jamaal Williams (three catches for a team-high 46 yards) and fifth-round pick Aaron Jones (six carries for 43 yards) led the way for a backfield that produced 166 total yards.

"It brings out the best in everybody. It's competition," Jones said. "We want to see each other succeed, but at the end of the day, you want to out-perform the next person. All of the backs did a great job today."

Montgomery, who had three carries for zero yards and a fumble in the Packers' preseason opener against Philadelphia, missed last week's game with a lower-leg injury.

In the first three series, the starting running back showed the explosiveness and versatility he exemplified down the stretch last season, motioning wide from the backfield on a few plays.

After busting his 25-yard gain, Montgomery also plowed into the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown after safety Kentrell Brice returned an interception 42 yards to the Denver 2.

That was the final play of the night for Montgomery. Like many of the Packers' starters, it's uncertain whether he'll play in Thursday's preseason finale against the Los Angeles Rams.

"I felt pretty good with the opportunities I had," Montgomery said. "I'm ready (for the regular season), but whatever they throw at me, whatever they feel like I need, I'm definitely willing to take on. I'm definitely still taking coaching. I'm not taking myself out of anything."

Williams, who's been handling a majority of the No. 2 reps throughout camp, displayed good hands out of the backfield in converting a pair of first downs with receptions of 20 and 17 yards on the same series near the end of the first half.

Like Montgomery, Jones made an impact on his first carry when he broke a 28-yard gain to get Green Bay's offense off its own 4-yard line with 5 minutes, 32 seconds left in the third quarter. That was the longest rush from scrimmage for the Packers this preseason.

Subtracting quarterback running yards, the Packers' 99 rushing yards on 20 carries were more than their first two preseason games combined (34 for 74), a good sign for the backfield going into the final week of training camp.

"It was a confidence-builder, definitely," said Jones, who had five carries for 14 yards prior to Saturday. "I did it a lot in college, but to be able to do it at this level, gave me a little bit of confidence I could do it again. … It definitely helped me get into rhythm. I was able to get going and find my pace."

Going the distance: Brett Hundley had perhaps the busiest nights of his NFL career, relieving Aaron Rodgers with 6:18 left in the first quarter and playing the remainder of the contest.

It was an up-and-down night for the Packers' offense, but Hundley was as consistent as usual in completing 20-of-30 passes for 186 yards with a rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Hundley anticipated playing a lot Saturday, but he wasn't expecting to go three-plus quarters. Still, it was a fun opportunity considering he was limited to only one preseason appearance with seven pass attempts last year due to a lingering ankle injury.

"Great opportunity just because of the fact I haven't had a chance to play a whole game since college," said Hundley, who has attempted 55 passes this preseason with a 91.7 passer rating.

"So for me to be able to get out here and play almost a whole game, you get into a rhythm and you're able to work different situations and circumstances. We got a mix of everything – two-minute at the end (of the game), fourth-and-1 twice. Unfortunately, we didn't make it. It just gives you an opportunity to get a feel for all those different situations."

Bouncing back: Second-year receiver Trevor Davis erased the memory of last week's dropped punt with a 27-yard return in the first quarter against the Broncos.

Davis leads the Packers in punt returns this preseason with 122 yards on five returns for a 24.4-yard average, including a 68-yard touchdown return in the opener against the Eagles.

"I have a really short memory nowadays on punt return because you have to," Davis said. "I don't even think about it. I can't. If I do, then it'll mess my head up for this game. Every time I'm out there, I'm trying to get a positive gain for the offense and do the best I can to help our offense get in good field position."

Take it away: The Packers' defensive front was as active as ever against the Broncos, with Mike Daniels recording a 10-yard sack early in the game and the backup line contributing two other forced fumbles.

Brian Price, a practice-squad holdover from last year, combined with second-year defensive tackle Christian Ringo to strip and recover a De'Angelo Henderson fumble, giving Green Bay the ball at the Denver 42 with a little more than 9 minutes left.

"Motivation, confidence, energy – those three in the same order," Ringo said. "You see turnovers, you're amped and hyped for your offense to go out there and make something happen. I know when I saw that ball, I was just excited because I knew we recovered it."

Open House: Davon House was on the field with the rest of the Packers' cornerbacks for pre-game warmups, a sign of progress for the seventh-year veteran who has been sidelined the past three weeks with a hamstring injury.

House, who didn't play against the Broncos, said he wouldn't mind playing against the Rams depending on how the hamstring is feeling, and what the coaches and trainers feel is best.

"They wanted me to come out there and warm up and see how I felt," House said. "I felt good, confident. We want me to get some practice first before I get out there. We'll see what happens Monday."

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