GREEN BAY, Wis. -- There's a reason the word "unofficial" appears in the upper-right corner of the depth chart the Green Bay Packers' public relations department distributes every week.
Nowhere does it list Ty Montgomery as a running back.
Not only is the former receiver a full-time member of the backfield now, he's likely the Packers' No. 1 running back heading into Sunday's game at Chicago and for the rest of the season.
"Well, Ty Montgomery is a running back," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Monday. "So I don't know where that was lost. I don't know if you're paying attention to the Jason Wahlers' depth chart that he puts together. I apologize because I haven’t looked at it since preseason, but, Ty, he's a running back. I apologize for not making an announcement. He hasn't gone to a receiver meeting in months."
McCarthy was clearly having some fun with his director of public relations, but the Packers are serious about this much: They like Montgomery out of the backfield.
And what's not to like?
Montgomery not only matched his season high with nine carries in Sunday's win over the Seattle Seahawks, but he gained most of his 41 yards rushing on his own -- 26 came after contact. For the season, he has averaged 2.8 yards after contact per carry, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That’s second among all running backs with at least 40 carries on the season.
Montgomery said he always envisioned himself as a running back while growing up but converted to receiver late in his high school career at St. Mark's School of Texas in Dallas at his coach's discretion.
"He was like, 'I'll be honest, we're not going to run the ball, so [we'll] just kind of have you play receiver,'" Montgomery said. "I was like 'OK.' And then colleges were looking at some of the older guys, and I was like 'Well, if they see me play receiver, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.' My goal [was] to play in college. I don't care where I'm playing and started going to camps as a receiver, but I was always playing running back."
"I think it was mostly just, 'Let's have this tool to build to be able put you back there to be able to do it.' And then injuries started happening and I had to be back there full-time," Montgomery said. "So that's the way I see it."
Being a full-time running back doesn't necessarily mean Montgomery will all of a sudden get 15-20 carries a game. However, Starks' role has clearly diminished. He's carried just six times for a total of 4 yards in the last two games combined and has played just seven snaps in each game. If Christine Michael keeps going the wrong way and misses handoffs like he did on an aborted play against the Seahawks, then his role might not increase, either.
"[McCarthy's] approach has always been to create opportunities, for not just Ty but a number of our players," Packers offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett said. "And that's something Coach puts a lot of time and effort into. So as far as trying to target and saying we're going to commit so many rushes to this one particular person or the next, that's something that we try to spread it around."
The idea that Montgomery is a full-time running back is not new; McCarthy acknowledged that more than a month ago and said it's time get back past his jersey number.
"He's not really No. 88," McCarthy said at the time, referring to Montgomery's receiver number.
However, NFL rules prohibit players from changing numbers during the season. However, Montgomery might be forced to switch it next season now that the Packers are calling him a running back.
"I'll cross that bridge when I get there," Montgomery said. "I don't know, 88's unique [for a back], but it would be cool to be in a running back number, so we'll see."