Mike Montgomery has no problem switching his jersey colors from the green and gold of the Green Bay Packers to the purple and gold of the Minnesota Vikings, especially since that change in address includes a return to the 4-3 defense.
Montgomery spent the first four years of his NFL career playing in the Packers' 4-3 defensive scheme, but, like Aaron Kampman, Montgomery's effectiveness and playing time were reduced when Green Bay switched to a 3-4 defense last year.
The transition back should be a quick one, despite playing for a different team.
"It's not that difficult. I played in a 4-3 for the past four years, so I can deal it. I can cope with it real fast," he said after a workout this week at Winter Park. "It's real nice. There's just a freedom on the edge to go out there and come off there."
"As far as scheme-wise, I'm more of a coming-off-the-ball type of person."
Montgomery was one of only two free agents the Vikings have signed since March. His final year in Green Bay's 4-3 was also his best year. In 2008, he started eight of 14 games and recorded 71 tackles and 2.5 sacks. He also had a career-best 15 tackles in an overtime loss to Tennessee. But last year his career got off track when the Packers switched defenses.
Now he will find himself battling not only for playing time but a roster spot. Jared Allen and Ray Edwards should have the starting spots nailed down with Brian Robison filling in behind them. Robison and Montgomery actually worked out at the same facility in Houston this offseason before Montgomery signed. Like Robison, Montgomery also has some experience playing defensive tackle on passing downs, a possibility in Minnesota as well.
"I can only control what I can do. It's up to (them) to put me out there," he said. "There's just more space (at end). Inside you've got to make a quick move. Outside you've got time."
"… I can only control myself. I'm just coming in here, work hard, make plays, be the best I can be."
Montgomery said he played defensive tackle more at the beginning of the 2009 season than at the end, but he's fine wherever he plays. Anything to get out on the field.
He said he didn't consult Brett Favre (a former teammate with the Packers) or any Vikings before making the move to Minnesota.
"As far as my decision, there's a good tradition, good fans, good stadium and a winning football team," he said.
Montgomery was a sixth-round draft choice (180th overall) of the Packers in 2005 and has played in 56 career games. At Texas A&M, he earned first-team All-Big 12 honors as a senior. Six years later he's just trying to find his spot on the Vikings.
"I just see myself as going out there and making plays. Whenever I'm in, just go out there and make plays. Be disruptive," he said, saying there was no talk of him being insurance if the suspensions to Pat Williams and Kevin Williams are upheld.
"They didn't talk about it that much. Basically it's me just coming in here and proving to everybody that I can play," he said.
As far as wearing purple, that's also a return to the familiar – he wore it in high school.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Montgomery finds familiarity in Minnesota
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