There will not be a No. 88 lining up in the Green Bay Packers’ backfield next season.
That’s only because Ty Montgomery won’t be wearing No. 88 next season.
“Talking with Ty in his exit interview, he’s a running back, so he wants to change his number and that’s the way we’re going,” coach Mike McCarthy said in his season-ending news conference. “So, he’ll spend the whole offseason working at the running back position. Obviously, the ability to flex out and play receiver and those types of things will be his secondary responsibility. But he’ll be on the depth chart as a running back.”
Montgomery was moved from wide receiver to running back at the end of training camp and provided a short in the arm to a backfield corps that lost Eddie Lacy with a season-ending ankle injury after five games and got nothing from veteran backup James Starks (2.3-yard average). Montgomery led the team with 457 rushing yards and, had he had enough carries to qualify, would have led the NFL with 5.9 yards per carry. He finished fourth on the team with 44 receptions. Montgomery added 25 carries for 91 yards and two touchdowns plus 10 catches for 77 yards in three playoff games.
“By no means did I think Ty Montgomery was going to be playing halfback and be there by himself against the Chicago Bears (on Oct. 20), but you have to be prepared for that,” McCarthy said. “To shift full-bore, we were fortunate we made the decision at the end of training camp to get Ty ready.”
Montgomery played receiver at Stanford and at the start of his Packers career, so he’s spent his past several offseasons training to play that position. That makes this a key few months as he tries to build up the durability after carrying the ball 12-plus times only once all season (including playoffs). He was knocked out of the Atlanta game with injured ribs.
If Montgomery’s at running back, who will join him in the backfield? Lacy and Christine Michael, who was claimed off waivers from Seattle on Nov. 16, are scheduled to become free agents. That leaves Montgomery, Starks (who will turn 31 in a month) and former undrafted free agents John Crockett and Don Jackson (both on injured reserve) as the backs on the roster.
Before the injury, Lacy seemed poised for a big season. He rushed for 360 yards and averaged 5.1 yards per carry, putting him on pace for a 1,150-yard season. After working out with fitness guru Tony Horton in the offseason, Lacy looked more explosive and had a 25-yard run in four of his five games.
“I’d love to see Eddie back,” McCarthy said. “Eddie is going through a medical situation. I clearly understand his contract situation, so that’s really something we’ll continue to work through. Russ Ball is always on top of those things. Until Eddie clears the medical threshold, we’ll have to see where we are.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.