GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Ty Montgomery knew that if he remained a receiver -- his position when the Green Bay Packers picked him in the third round of the 2015 draft -- it might have led to a 10-to-12-year NFL career.
He also knows that every year could have been a fight to climb up the depth chart.
So one of the reasons he fully embraced the switch to running back -- a position that historically leads to shorter careers -- was the idea that he would be the Packers’ go-to guy.
“Do I want to play in the NFL for a longer period of time and not be as happy because I’m not having the amount of success that I’d like to have?” Montgomery said Tuesday during an appearance at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut. “And if running back gives me that, then I’d rather play six to eight years in the league [while] having a successful career and having a lot of fun doing it and not always battling to be somebody’s fourth, fifth or sixth receiver, even if it meant a 10-to-12-year career.”
“So would I rather be trying to be someone’s No. 1 running back than being somebody’s fourth, fifth or sixth receiver? Would I rather be trying to make someone’s team as a fourth, fifth, sixth receiver and potentially not making as much money as I could if I played six to eight years in the league and have the potential to make the amount of money I could at the running back position? It all came down to quality over quantity, and I want the quality of years to be what I want.”
Not that he’s in it for the fame, but Montgomery’s celebrity soared after he made the position switch last October because injuries decimated the Packers’ backfield. He even became the subject of great debate in fantasy football circles before he finally was recognized as a full-time running back for scoring purposes.
Montgomery almost certainly wouldn’t have been all over ESPN on Tuesday had he remained buried on the depth chart at receiver.
Now, as a running back, he’s one of the most recognizable Packers.
“It feels like it, and I’m getting used to it,” he said of the increased attention. “But I also understand that unless I’m going out there and having a big season, this could either be good or bad for me. The talk down the road could be 'He should have stayed at receiver.' Or it could be 'He made the best decision of his life.' I get that. But I made the decision because I want the quality of years to be what I want them to be.”
Still, everywhere Montgomery looks he’s reminded of his relative inexperience as a running back. During an appearance Tuesday on NFL Live, Herm Edwards asked Montgomery if he knew how many carries he had last season. Montgomery quickly answered correctly -- 77 -- only to prompt Edwards to ask if he’s ready to double that this season.
“I’m ready for it,” Montgomery answered.
“If I didn’t think I was ready, then I don’t think I would be in this position I’m in right now,” Montgomery said later. “Just because I haven’t done it yet doesn’t mean that I can’t be ready for it.”
So how did Montgomery know his exact carry total?
“Because it keeps popping up across my Twitter feed and seeing it on ESPN whenever they talk about the Packers' running back situation and how young we are -- 77 carries being the most experienced back is hard to miss,” he said.
Without a veteran presence, it’s Montgomery and three draft picks -- fourth-rounder Jamaal Williams of BYU, fifth-rounder Aaron Jones of UTEP and seventh-rounder Devante Mays of Utah State -- vying for carries.
“He understands what the challenges are this year,” Packers running backs coach Ben Sirmans said. “Everybody knows who he is now. So now when they're looking at something on film and preparing for us, they know who Ty Montgomery is. They know what he can do. Like I told him, the only thing he can do from this point on is just keep enhancing the skill sets that he has.”