Montgomery adds new dimension to Packers backfield

He’s a wide receiver that returns kicks and lines up in the backfield. If that sound confusing, imagine what the defense is thinking.

Rookie Ty Montgomery lined up behind Aaron Rodgers a handful of times against the 49ers. The wide receiver – in the formation as a running back – carried the ball two times for ten yards. The plays were nothing spectacular but it’s something the opposition must account for.

“He’s extremely versatile and we knew that when we were very fortunate to draft him. His ability to line up in the backfield, to play in the slot, to play outside gives you quite a few options,” offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett said of Montgomery. Green Bay also uses Randall Cobb’s abilities as a runner and pass catcher.

“This game is about matchups and anytime you have a player of that caliber putting him in different positions to make plays, it bodes well for the offense,” he continued.

As a senior at Stanford, Montgomery carried the ball 23 times for 144 yards and a touchdown so this isn’t new to him

The explosive rookie can be a unique threat. Montgomery has already caught 9 passes for 66 yards including one for a touchdown against the Chiefs on Monday Night Football. As he gains more confidence and the Packers open up their playbook further, the wide receiver-running back-versatile offensive weapon will get more chances.

“Ty Montgomery is a four-down football player,” Mike McCarthy said, “The fact that you can play him the backfield, the return game, and I think he’s done some really good things at receiver too. Ty is getting better each and every week.”

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Rams defensive line works inside-out

Aaron Rodgers’ peripheral vision won’t help him against the Rams’ most dangerous rusher. They’re coming from directly in front of him.

“It starts with the front. They are very talented and their ability to create penetration. It’s really sets the tone for the defense,” Mike McCarthy said. “It’ll be a big test for us.”

While the Rams are tied with the Packers for second-most sacks in the league (17), they differ in the location from where they tally these sacks. St. Louis likes to work the rush from the inside-out.

Defensive tackle Aaron Donald is a force inside and he sits atop the sack totals for his position group with 3.0. The second year player even impressed Aaron Rodgers as rookie before playing a meaningful game as the Packers scouted to prepare for St. Louis in the preseason last season.

“I think they have some premier pass rushers inside. Most teams have either great guys outside or guys that are going to move the pocket inside. This front four can all get after the passer,” Rodgers said. Defensive ends Robert Quinn and Chris Long along with linebacker Alec Ogletree and cornerback Lamarcus Joyner already have multiple takedowns this year as well for the Rams.  
“That’s the kind of defensive line you love to have as a defensive coordinator,” he continued.

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No more complementary role, defense stars in Packers win over San Francisco

Once an understudy, the Packers defense shined bright in San Francisco.

The defensive unit vastly out-performed their offense for most of the game, which isn’t a common or easily founded statement. They bullied the 49ers offense and harassed their quarterback Colin Kaepernick to the tune of 6 sacks.

“We’re playing the kind of ball we want to play in most of the phases. When the defense they play like that, we’re going to be tough to beat,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said after the Packers 17-3 win over San Francisco.

“Offensively we’ve kind of carried it at time the first few weeks but the defense, especially the last two weeks have put pressure on the passer. We’re not getting a ton of turnovers but when the offense is not turning it over it makes us pretty tough to beat,” he continued.

Outside of a pair of opening drive touchdowns in each half Rodgers and the offense sputtered. It’s an infrequent occurrence but was carried by their opposite number.  

The defense – who was overwhelmed by Kaepernick’s dual-threat offense to an average of 401 total yards per game in his three previous starts against Green Bay – came alive. Without surrendering a touchdown the unit instead made the athletic quarterback look awkward.  

“Forcing them to be one dimensional was our goal today,” linebacker Clay Matthews said. San Francisco running back Carlos Hyde only carried the ball eight times for 20 yards. “In some opportunities we were able to pin our ears back and get after Kaepernick and I thought we did a pretty good job.”

The Packers now rank second in the NFL with 17 sacks – which is also a mark they didn’t reach until Week 8 a season ago.

They designed the pressure in the game plan to be aggressive from the opening kickoff as to not allow the read-option to overtake them. Their assertiveness worked from a variety of way and locations too. Five different players tallied a takedown of Kaepernick.

“After a while when one person gets one, we all on the sideline are like ‘Man I need one,’” Mike Neal said. “So we all go hunting and I think it’s a competition within our linebackers, defensive line and once a person gets one we try to keep them rolling and it’s been working.”

It’s carryover for a pair of performances against the Seahawks and Chiefs. The defense only allowed Marshawn Lynch and Jamaal Charles to gain 90 combined yards on the ground.

While the defense has the NFL’s best security blanket in Rodgers, they’re showing how reliable they can be. If the offense goes stagnant, the defense can make up for it.

“It was a good complimentary game. Aaron and those guys moved the ball and went on some long drives and we had a chance to get some rest,” defensive lineman B.J. Raji said. “When we got out there we did a fairly good job of stopping the run and trying to limit them to a 3-and-out.”

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