At Last, David Montgomery Really Gets To Run

No more practice runs without pads or watching in preseason for David Montgomery, as he gets to put it all out there against the run defense ranked third in the league last year.
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The offseason of David Montgomery's discontent is finally done.

All offseasons for Montgomery feature discontent.

On Sunday night he'll get his wish and run in a real game, against a real defense. No more of this non-padded stuff in practices or being held to one carry in preseason by coach Matt Nagy.

"So we've had live periods in camp which were good, and I had fun doing," Montgomery said. "But at the same time, I'm a running back, so I get hit all the time.

"You never forget what a hit feels like. So when I go back out there and get hit again, I'm like, 'I knew that was going to happen.' "

Montgomery doesn't usually mind getting hit. 

It's stopping him that was the problem last year for the opposing defense. He ran for 1,070 yards but 590 of those came after he made contact, the fifth most yards overall and fifth most after contact. His 29 broken tackles ranked third in the league.

Those stats fail to impress Montgomery as it pertains to this season.

"It's a new year," Montgomery said. "I just want to go out and just be the best me, the best version of myself I can be, whenever the opportunity presents itself. So like the mindset that I have going in is just being me.

"Coach Nagy preaches just be you. And bringing everybody else around me with me so that we can get this rolling."

The question facing the Bears against the Rams in the opener is whether this really can get rolling on the ground from the season's outset. L.A. finished third against the run last year, although the Rams did lose key defensive lineman Michael Brockers. Somehow, Aaron Donald figures to surive.

The Bears ran in 2018 for 194 yards on the Rams in their 15-6 victory at Soldier Field but that was a day when Jordan Howard gained 101 yards. In two losses against the Rams

Montgomery has 28 runs for 79 yards total and a long of 11 yards.

Last year's 48-yard effort came during the height of the Bears' offensive struggles when they averaged just under 53 yards rushing per game in a seven-game stretch.

"Ah, last year is last year," Montgomery said.

It would be hard to dispute that offensive line Montgomery had in front of him in the game with the Rams was irrelevant now. 

In fact, it was irrelevant a few weeks after the game. None of the players on this line where in their current positions in that game. Rashaad Coward, Bobby Massie and Charles Leno Jr. are no longer on the team. Cody Whitehair was center and is now left guard. Germain Ifedi was playing right guard, not tackle.

The thing is, this current line isn't the one the Bears had on the field to finish the season when they did seem to have the ground game rolling. It's 39-year-old Jason Peters at left tackle and James Daniels at right guard instead of Leno and Alex Bars at those spots respectively. In theory, it should be a better blocking line, but they've only been together a few weeks.

A back tends to get in rhythm with his offensive line when it's blocking well.

"So, yeah, it's definitely good to have that reassurance that, you know, you've got a group of guys that you're rolling with," Montgomery said. "But at the end of the day you understand that it's the NFL and guys get hurt, and you've got to have that 'next play, next person' mentality."

Can this group pick up where the blocking was left off by the other group?

"They haven't shown me anything to, or given me any opportunity to think that I shouldn't have confidence in those guys," Montgomery said. "So I'm excited just to go out there and play."

Then there are those who doubt the line really did come together last year because the opponents included four dreadful defensive teams.

"Sometimes things work. Sometimes things don't," Montgomery. "And when they do, you just kind of want to stay honed in to when you get those opportunities and you get in those situations where you kind of got to make that play or you got make it happen, and it happens, it's a relief.

But it's also, at the same time, it's confirmation that we could be as good as we can be once we get it going."

The line is one part of the ground game. Another part is Nagy and his willingness to run it. He'd be more likely because he has full confidence now in Montgomery as he says he has become close with his top back.

"We talk all the time, not just when we're here in the building but outside of the building, and he knows the trust I have in him and I know the trust he has in me," Nagy said. "Now it's just a matter of us doing it together."

Montgomery has his coach's back.

"I'm just going into it every game and every opportunity that I get as if it's my last," he said. "So I'm just going to be sure that I leave all out on the field, whenever I get an opportunity to."

He's just glad those real opportunities are finally here.

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