Fourteen rookies have played for the Green Bay Packers this year, but it was Michael Montgomery's turn to raise some eyebrows with his performance against the Chicago Bears.
"He's done a nice job," Head Coach Mike Sherman said. "He has excellent length. He has a burst to the ball. He has a toughness about him that I really like."
The sixth round draft pick from Texas A&M did not play in Weeks 4, 5, 6 and 7 but made his greatest impact on Sunday when he recorded his first sack of the season. He slammed Bears quarterback Kyle Orton for a seven-yard loss during the first quarter. He then pumped his arm in celebration.
"It was good feeling," he said. "My first year -- to get my first sack ever."
Montgomery said he plays the run better than the pass at this point in his career. Those disparate abilities were not apparent on Sunday when he racked up four tackles and a sack in just 15 plays. Montgomery has manned both the left and right side for about to 10 to 12 snaps-a-game, but his skills have caused the Packers to look for more occasions to use him.
"We have progressively increased his role," Sherman said.
Montgomery has the advantage of playing behind two veteran and talented defensive players, Aaron Kampman and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila. The rookie has acted as an absorbent sponge, soaking in all their lessons.
"He takes things from everybody else's game and he incorporates them," said Kenny Peterson, his roommate on every road trip. "He's doing a good job."
Montgomery carries a large presence but is a man of few words. Coaches love his 6-5, 273-pound frame but want him to maximize that size by playing with a better pad level.
Such raw fundamentals should not come as a surprise. He only played two years of Division I football after two years at Navarro Junior College in Corsicana, Texas. Montgomery went on to Texas A&M where he earned All-Big 12 honors as a senior while posting 78 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and six sacks.
With that abbreviated D-I experience, Montgomery carries tremendous upside, which he is starting to fulfill as he masters the Packers' defensive scheme.
"I'm getting into my groove," Montgomery said. "I'm getting a feel for what I need to do."