Preseason Week 1 provides rookies getting their first taste of professional action. And of all the rookies who will step onto the Soldier Field surface, David Montgomery is the one generating the most buzz (and with good reason).
The Bears liked Montgomery so much, they traded up to make him the team’s first selection in the 2019 NFL Draft. Since then, Montgomery has shown with his efforts on the practice field why Chicago’s front office prioritized his addition last spring.
Montgomery has flashed plenty of shiftiness, a hard-nosed running style, and an ability to run routes (and catch passes) out of the backfield. These are the things that helped make him one of the draft’s top running back prospects. And if history repeats itself, Montgomery will get a lion’s share of the carries to show off the skills that made him a coveted running back prospect.
Head Coach Matt Nagy took it easy on his top two backs last summer. Jordan Howard was handed just nine rushing attempts. Tarik Cohen was given just one touch last preseason. That left Taquan Mizzell (34 rushes), Ryan Nall (32), and Knile Davis (24) were given the most carries last summer. And because Nagy will probably want to ease up on workloads for Cohen and newcomer Mike Davis, that would leave a fair number of carries for Montgomery. HOWEVER, there is a possibility the Montgomery Preseason Extravaganza might not last long.
Toward the end of last preseason, Nagy limited snaps for players who would turn out to be key contributors in the regular season. If Montgomery’s skills translate well early in the preseason and shows he can handle pass-blocking assignments by holding his own against on-coming blitzes, then Chicago’s decision-makers could shift running back responsibilities around. So if someone like Ryan Nall or Kerrith Whyte Jr. turns out to be the preseason’s leading rusher, don’t be alarmed. It could very well be part of a bigger plan.
The Bears are loaded with young talent and players looking to make a good impression early in the preseason. And while Montgomery is at the top of the list now, he could play his way into a role where he gets fewer preseason snaps. And if that is how it works out, then it will be a good thing.