INDIANAPOLIS -- An ankle injury wrecked what had the makings of a promising rookie season for Green Bay Packers receiver Ty Montgomery. Now the surgery to correct it could wipe out his entire offseason.
Coach Mike McCarthy views the offseason between a player’s first and second seasons as crucial to his development, so the 2015 third-round pick from Stanford could fall behind as he prepares for Year 2.
“It’ll be great to have him once he gets back,” McCarthy said this week at the NFL scouting combine. “I don’t know if he’ll be ready til training camp.”
Montgomery’s injury was an ongoing saga last season, but McCarthy said the rookie handled it like a seasoned veteran. It started Oct. 18, when Montgomery twisted his left ankle so severely he initially thought he broke his leg. It was eventually diagnosed as a high ankle sprain. At least twice he returned to practice only to experience setbacks before the Packers finally placed him on season-ending injured reserve Dec. 21.
Montgomery then underwent surgery for what his agent said was cartilage damage.
“Just talking with Ty after the season, he was frustrated,” McCarthy said. “He felt he had this injury and people didn’t think he was [seriously injured]. I said, ‘No. 1, that’s not the case.’ Two, I said, ‘I appreciate that you went through every step.’ He tried to come back three or four different occasions. At the end of it he had the operation. I said, that’s the way a pro goes about it. [Team physician Dr.] Pat [McKenzie] is not that way, but some people might have operated earlier. He did everything he could, he went through all the different types of treatments.
“He got the point where there were times he thought he was going to be able to go. But based on what they saw once they went in there, it’s understandable the way they went around it. For a young guy -- some people might have shut it down a lot earlier than that. I think it was what, six or eight weeks? It was frustrating for him. But you appreciate when guys do that, do everything they can to get back on.”
Montgomery stood out early in training camp and was targeted for a significant role on special teams as a kickoff returner, and then on offense after Jordy Nelson blew out his knee Aug. 23. He caught 15 passes (without a drop) for 136 yards and two touchdowns in the first six games.
McCarthy said Montgomery is staying in Green Bay this offseason and has been part of a group of players that includes Nelson who are rehabbing and working out at Lambeau Field full-time this winter.
“He’ll be better from it,” McCarthy said. “I tell you, obviously he had a significant injury [that] required surgery, and the young man did everything he possibly could to get back on the field. He tried everything. Surgery is the last resort, but I think it was a good six- to eight-week period that he tried numerous times to get back on the field. Very impressed with him as a young man.”