A few minutes later, he did it again.
Montgomery, a third-round rookie receiver, was a late arrival to the Green Bay Packers’ offseason practices as he finished his classes at Stanford. Because of Stanford’s academic calendar, he missed most of the three weeks of organized team activities, which meant Tuesday’s minicamp practice was the first time he worked in front of reporters since the rookie orientation camp following the draft.
“It just sucked,” Montgomery said of not being allowed to practice. “It kind of felt like being grounded and all your other friends get to go play. That’s kind of what it felt like, but graduation means a lot. Not only to me, but my family. That Stanford degree can never be taken away from you. I’ll get old, I’ll be done playing football, but that Stanford degree is not going anywhere. That being said, I did want to be out here a lot.”
Between taking final exams, dealing with a “family emergency” and trying to learn the playbook from about 2,250 miles away, it’s been a stressful time for Montgomery. Having wrapped up his schoolwork on Wednesday, he took part in OTAs on Thursday and Friday, flew back to Stanford for Sunday’s graduation, then returned to Green Bay for the start of the minicamp.
“I gave myself (three) goals today,” Montgomery said. “It was to play fast, play with confidence – that meaning if I make a mistake, make it full speed – and then to finish every play. I still fell behind. I’m trying to learn seven or eight installs in two days.”
The explosive catch-and-run ability he flashed is what attracted the Packers to Montgomery, even though receiver is one of the deeper position units on the team. While he averaged less than 10 yards per catch – an appalling number for any receiver — a lot of his receptions came at or behind the line of scrimmage. According to ProFootballFocus.com, he forced 17 missed tackles on 61 receptions — the best rate in this year’s draft class. That run-after-catch ability and proven production as a kick returner are reasons why Packers West Coast scout Sam Seale called him a “bigger” version of Randall Cobb during the draft.
“Bigger” is the operative word. He might be a receiver but he certainly didn’t look out of place wearing an “Incredible Hulk” T-shirt while meeting with reporters. The Packers list him at 216 pounds — about the same as Jordy Nelson even though he’s about 3 inches shorter.
“He definitely is a guy that can run after the catch. That's a very big strength of his,” quarterbacks/receivers coach Alex Van Pelt said.
Having shown his explosive acceleration, now he’s going to have to show an accelerated ability to learn the playbook away from the practice and meeting-room setting. While he flashed at times, he admitted his “comfort level (isn’t) very high just yet” as he thinks his way through a playbook that the rest of the rookies have been executing for the past month.
“It’s nerve-wracking because I don't want to have any wasted reps for myself,” Montgomery said. “I don't want to want to waste anybody else's time not knowing what to do. I'm more nervous just to make sure I know what I'm doing because it’s different when you study the playbook in your room and then when you get out there and there's 10 other guys and you've all got to be on the same page and know what to do and hear the whole play.”
Given Stanford’s academic reputation, Montgomery should be able to hit the ground running for training camp. Despite being away from Green bay for about a month, Van Pelt was impressed by how much information he had retained. Van Pelt said Montgomery will head home with “all the notes he needs” to get up to speed with his roles in the slot, wide receiver and on special teams.
“He's a guy that (pays) attention to detail,” Van Pelt said. “You come back and ask him a question from rookie minicamp and he can tell you verbatim what the route is and the concept, so that's impressive to see. I think just for the few days he's been out there, I think you're going to see more and more out of him as we get to training camp just because of his ability to now understand the system.”
Attendance: All 89 players were present for Day 1 of the rookie minicamp. Six players did not practice: undrafted rookie receiver Javess Blue, cornerback Casey Hayward, outside linebackers Nick Perry and Mike Neal, tight end Justin Perillo and defensive tackle Josh Boyd. No injury report was provided, though Perry is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. Undrafted running back John Crockett injured his left ankle while running a deep pass route and did not return.
Hayward did do some light individual work with the rest of of the cornerbacks early in practice.
“Casey’s getting better,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “He’s following the protocol that the medical staff and the training staff have for him, but it was important for him and Jordy (Nelson) to get some work here down the stretch so they can go off into the summer workouts with some confidence.”email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.