NFL

Playoff matchup is a homecoming for Montgomery

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Packers running back Ty Montgomery remembers vividly the time he scored a touchdown on the Dallas Cowboys' home turf.

He was a kid playing Pop Warner football during halftime of a Cowboys game at Texas Stadium. Little Ty took the handoff near midfield, went up the middle and ran for a 60-yard touchdown.

Now Montgomery, who is from Dallas, has a chance to do it again, but this time as an NFL player. Green Bay travels to Dallas on Sunday for a divisional round playoff game at the Cowboys' current home, AT&T Stadium.

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"I always had dreams of playing at Cowboys Stadium. I remember, specifically up to this day ... having a dream of playing running back in Texas Stadium," Montgomery said. "I didn't know that AT&T was going to be built."

He'll get a good look at the Cowboys' spacious and glitzy home on Sunday.

A trip home to Texas is fitting in a season in which Montgomery switched from receiver to running back to help fill the void left by the season-ending ankle injury to Eddie Lacy in October.

Montgomery was a running back growing up. He was a running back in high school. He was switched to receiver in college at Stanford, and the Packers drafted him in the third round in 2015 as a receiver.

But Montgomery's versatility remained an asset. The Packers initially viewed him as someone who might fill a role similar to that of receiver Randall Cobb earlier in his career. Cobb used to line up in the backfield with more frequency.

Montgomery had a breakout game in his new role, rushing for 162 yards and two scores on 16 carries in a 30-27 win on Dec. 18 against the Chicago Bears.

Montgomery hasn't come close to the production he had against the Bears. It's in part due to McCarthy going with fullback Aaron Ripkowski at times in certain matchups. Christine Michael, who was acquired from Seattle off waivers in November, has also shown flashes of a speedy, slashing style in the backfield that the Packers haven't had in recent years.

As for Montgomery, every week gives him another chance to get more acclimated to blitz pick-ups and protection schemes, as well as reading how defenses are playing him.

"He continues to improve. He's certainly making strides," offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett said.

Montgomery still wears No. 88, typically worn by receivers, because rules state that he cannot switch numbers in the middle of the year.

"Some teams might game-plan me as a receiver. Some teams might game-plan me as a running back and adjust accordingly, I'm not sure," Montgomery said. "But however it goes, it's not really going to change my approach on what I'm trying to get done."

He's sure to have plenty of friends and family in the stands at Sunday's game cheering him on, a scene that should conjure up childhood memories.

Montgomery said he was at Texas Stadium on Oct. 27, 2002, when Cowboys star and future Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith broke the NFL career rushing record previously held by Walter Payton. Montgomery worked in concessions sometimes, selling water and hot dogs.

But Montgomery isn't making a big deal out of this weekend's homecoming.

"It's just another game," he said. "It's nice to be going home but it's another game."

Notes: Besides WR Jordy Nelson, who was declared out for the Cowboys game by McCarthy on Friday morning, the Packers' injury report listed OL JC Tretter (knee) and RB James Starks (concussion) as out for Sunday. LB Jayrone Elliott (hand), WR Jeff Janis (quad) and CB Quinten Rollins (neck/concussion) were listed as questionable. Rollins was limited in practice this week, and McCarthy said the cornerback still has to be cleared from the NFL's concussion protocol. The team practices again on Saturday.