Ty Montgomery passes first test as Packers' workhorse back

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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Ty Montgomery's transition to running back appears to be going well.

Yes, the converted receiver was listed as the starting tailback on the Green Bay Packers' depth chart to open the season. He spent the offseason preparing as a running back.

Montgomery passed his first test in his first season opener as a full-timer in the backfield.

He ran for 54 yards on 19 carries in the season-opening win against Seattle, including 38 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries in the second half.

Montgomery played 90 percent of the snaps, and might have taken more if he didn't limp off briefly at one point with a sore ankle.

It's just the sort of effort that coaches love to see against a physical defense, one that opponents will remember come playoff time.

Montgomery's shoulder and upper body look thicker this season, the kind of physique more suitable for a starting running back. But the 6-foot, 216-pound Montgomery doesn't pigeonhole himself to a certain style of running.

"Let me tell you, I thrive on being effective . If I have to take on contact or deliver contact than that's what it is," Montgomery said Thursday when asked if he prefers to seek out contact. "If I've got to completely make a guy miss, that's what it is. I look to doing whatever it takes."

It's a philosophy he used last season, too, when coach Mike McCarthy moved Montgomery to an injury-riddled backfield. Both Eddie Lacy and James Starks were bothered by injuries most of the season.

Lacy and Starks are now gone. Montgomery became the centerpiece of the backfield overhaul and given a full offseason to prepare as a running back, though Green Bay also took three backs in the draft.

What Montgomery described as a "soft tissue" leg injury that slowed him for part of training camp gave opportunities for rookies Jamaal Williams, Aaron Jones and Devante Mays to get more looks. But the week before the opener, McCarthy declared again that "Ty Montgomery is our starting running back, so his development is over. It's time to go win games."

And that's exactly what Montgomery helped the Packers do against Seattle.

"I don't really see myself being so stubborn as like, `Oh, I'm going to run this guy over.' My mindset is I'm going to find a way to score the football, because at the end of the day, the team that has more points than the other team is going to win," Montgomery said. "Nobody's going to look at Ty and be like `Ty did run over a couple people today.'"

Montgomery's pass-catching skills also make him a matchup problem out of the backfield. It might be similar to the matchup concern that Falcons running back Devonta Freeman will present the Packers on Sunday night when Green Bay visits Atlanta.

Sometimes a linebacker might cover Montgomery. Other times it might be a safety. At the line of scrimmage, Aaron Rodgers -- one of the smartest quarterbacks in the league -- will usually find the mismatch.

"When you move your halfback out there, no different than (what) we do with Ty Montgomery, the defense has base defense on the field," McCarthy said. "The matchup is your focus."

NOTES: Starting RT Bryan Bulaga went home for a second straight day with an illness and missed practice. He was already dealing with a right ankle injury. Starting LT David Bakhtiari was limited for a second straight day with a hamstring injury. The Packers brought up OL Adam Pankey from the practice squad this week to provide depth up front, especially with backup T Jason Spriggs expected to miss some time with a hamstring injury and utility OL Don Barclay (ankle) on injured reserve. … Two defensive players were added to the injury report as limited in practice: DT Mike Daniels (hip) and S Kentrell Brice (quadriceps/knee).