GREEN BAY – The fire has burned inside Ty Montgomery all offseason.
Eyeing a transformative 2018 campaign – and awaiting the birth of his first child – the Packers running back spent the past three months training in Green Bay.
After a wrist injury landed him on season-ending injured reserve in December, Montgomery’s focus has been locked on a list of goals and aspirations sealed exclusively in his mind.
“I have in my head what that is,” said Montgomery at the kickoff for the Packers’ 13th-annual Tailgate Tour on Tuesday. “I don’t think it’s something that I really want to talk about in the media. I do have goals for myself, though. I know that I can be a really good football player. I just need to stay healthy.”
Health has been the key for Montgomery. When he’s on the field, the former third-round pick has been a versatile and productive member of the Packers’ offense. Montgomery has notched 1,985 all-purpose yards in his first 29 regular-season games and was widely praised for an in-season switch from receiver to running back in 2016.
The issue has been availability. Montgomery missed 10 games as a rookie in 2015 due to a persistent ankle injury, which eventually required season-ending surgery. He then sat out one game the following year because of complications due to the sickle-cell trait.
The stage appeared set for Montgomery to run away with the job last year. He played more than 80 percent of the offensive snaps during the first month of the 2017 season before rib and wrist injuries cost Montgomery eight games.
Rookie draft picks Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams stepped up in Montgomery’s absence, combining for 1,004 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. The unexpected rookie production and Montgomery’s impending return have the Packers excited about the outlook for 2018 and beyond.
“I think it’s pretty apparent with what they were able to do last season after I went out,” Montgomery said. “With what I’ve shown to be able to do, I think it’s really apparent how good we can be.”
For his part, Montgomery has taken a proactive approach to his training. The emergence of Jones and Williams has only further motivated Montgomery to perfect the position.
Montgomery’s offseason left an impression on Head Coach Mike McCarthy, who praised his consistent presence in the weight room when speaking to reporters at last week’s NFL Annual Meeting in Orlando.
McCarthy also is steadfast about running back being the best position for Montgomery to build on the versatile reputation he’s developed during his first three NFL seasons.
“Ty is a running back. He’s a damn good one,” McCarthy said. “He gives us a lot of ability to play schematically any way we want to play because of being able to displace.
Packers RB Ty Montgomery celebrates his birthday on Jan. 22. Take a look at photos of him from the 2017 season. Photos by Evan Siegle and Corey Wilson, packers.com
“He’s been there every day too, he’s in there working out. Looks great. I know (strength and conditioning coordinator) Mark Lovat is excited about where he is. I think you’ll see a bigger, stronger Ty Montgomery this year.”
Montgomery acknowledges the Packers’ offense is “definitely going to be different,” but adds that “different isn’t necessarily” a bad thing. While the Packers must replace Jordy Nelson’s leadership and production, they have signed five-time Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham and brought Joe Philbin back as offensive coordinator.
Montgomery has only met Philbin in passing but knows the strong reputation he’s built inside the Packers’ locker room. During Philbin’s five previous seasons as offensive coordinator from 2007-11, Green Bay’s offense ranked No. 3 in the NFL in points per game (28.3), touchdowns (267), passing touchdowns (170) and total net yards per game (372.8).
Right now, Montgomery wants to get a full season under his belt and show everyone what he’s capable of when injuries aren’t part of the equation.
“I know where my abilities lie,” Montgomery said. “Of course I’d be really excited to do a multitude of different things. Catch the ball, running the ball, return the ball, whatever it is, even if I have to block some more punts.
“I just want to make plays all over the field.”