“Player on the Rise” is a new weekly feature on packers.com that will highlight a young Green Bay player making an impact, big or small, on gameday.
GREEN BAY – Standing all alone in the Soldier Field end zone to return the first kickoff of the season for the Packers, rookie Ty Montgomery could hardly keep still.
But he wasn’t nervous. He just couldn’t wait to start his NFL career.
“I was pumped, to be honest,” Montgomery said in the locker room Sunday in Chicago following Green Bay’s 31-23 victory. “I was super-excited. I’ve been praying about this day since I started playing football. It was a great opportunity.
“No, no nerves. I was ready to go.”
It showed, as Montgomery caught that first kickoff two yards deep in the end zone and brought it out to the Green Bay 39-yard line. The 41-yard return matched the Packers’ longest from all of 2014, when they ranked 31st in the league on kickoff returns.
That’s what Montgomery was brought in to do, boost a struggling unit, and the third-round draft pick from Stanford has provided an instant upgrade.
On his next return to open the second half, he beat the prior one, going 46 yards out to the Green Bay 41. Six plays later the Packers were in the end zone and taking the lead.
After the film review on Monday, Special Teams Coordinator Ron Zook suggested Montgomery might have been able to get even more yardage on one of his long runs. Regardless, Montgomery credited his blockers for creating ample running room and plans to take advantage of every opening he gets.
“I want every day to be like the day we had today on the kickoff return team,” he said. “You never know what can happen, but that’s the type of mindset that I want to have, because I want to be that guy for this team.”
With Jordy Nelson’s season-ending knee injury, there was a possibility Montgomery would move into the No. 3 receiver role on offense as well. The signing of James Jones after final cuts changed that, but Montgomery isn’t down about that in the slightest.
Instead, he’s focusing that much more intently on the task at hand.
“One thing we talked about is make sure we all embrace our roles, and right now that’s my role,” he said. “I fully embrace it, and I’m going to put everything I have into that role, because it’s very important. You can either score on that, or give the offense great field position.”
Consider the job his, and the rookie couldn’t be enjoying it more. To come out of college and make an impact in his very first pro game says a lot about Montgomery’s abilities, and his well-placed confidence.
“It’s the same game, essentially,” he said. “It’s football, 11-v-11, three phases of the game. It’s just on a bigger stage, different stadiums, different teams, playing against the best of the best. Other than that, it’s the same game, and it’s a lot of fun.”
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