We made much out of the Green Bay Packers’ wide receiver depth entering the 2016 season. There were seven guys who we thought had a legitimate claim on a roster spot and that actually turned out to be eight guys when you add in rookie Geronimo Allison. Ty Montgomery was part of that mix when the season started.
However, it started slowly for Montgomery, who was completely forgotten about in the passing game until he was forced into a role at running back. That happened after both Eddie Lacy and James Starks got injured.
After not catching a pass and rushing the football just twice through the first four games of the season, Montgomery was suddenly a featured weapon in week 6. He would catch 20 passes and run the ball 12 times through week 6 and 7. And then, back to being forgotten about until some late-season heroics. The highlight came with a 162-yard rushing effort in week 15 at Chicago.
No doubt it was an up-and-down season for Montgomery, mostly by the hand of Mike McCarthy.
After all, you can only make plays when given the football and often, Montgomery wasn’t given the football. That bumpy ride started in the preseason.
Montgomery said there were times when he didn’t know if he’d even make the team. He also suggested he didn’t feel like his roster spot was guaranteed even after the season started.
“There were times during training camp when I wasn’t even sure I was going to make the team. Coming back off of ankle surgery, I felt like I was getting buried on the depth chart at wide receiver. It seemed like there was no way out, except to get released. I ended up making the team, but I’m not playing and this new kickoff rule — in my mind, I have to kneel everything that’s in the end zone. I can’t even return kickoffs, so I’m feeling like, how am I helping this football team? Am I just taking up space?”
Ultimately, the Packers were lucky Montgomery was around.
It became clear Starks wasn’t able to carry the running game even when healthy and the Packers failed to find much help in Knile Davis or Christine Michael.
Montgomery finished the year with 457 yards rushing, while averaging an impressive 5.9 yards per carry. That last number suggests the Packers should have handed him the ball more often. He also caught 44 passes for 348 yards and was a huge matchup problem as a receiver out of the backfield.
What the future holds for Montgomery is anyone’s guess. We expect the Packers to add running back depth, either by re-signing Eddie Lacy or bringing in someone else. That doesn’t mean Montgomery won’t or shouldn’t have a role in 2017.
In fact, the numbers say his role should expand.