Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery met with the media after training camp practice Friday, and he offered a glimpse into what motivates him to be the best NFL player he can.
“I remember that I didn’t have any offers coming out of high school,” Montgomery said. “I remember that we didn’t have any money when I was younger. I remember that when I got to college, I wasn’t supposed to play as a freshman. And I remember when I was coming out in the draft, I got passed up a bunch of times.”
Talent can only take a player so far. The hunger and desire to be great, and the work ethic they often produce, are critical for a player to go from draft pick to long-term pro. Montgomery, a 2018 third-round pick from Iowa State, has already proven he’s a professional.
“It’s just being a pro and just what I’m supposed to do,” Montgomery said. “You don’t get treats or cool points for being a pro. It’s either you’re a pro, or you’re out of the NFL. I think I want to pick ‘being a pro.’”
David Montgomery’s hard work on and off the field has produced modest results so far through three seasons in the NFL. He has one 1,000-yard rushing year on his resume and likely would’ve hit the 1,000-yard mark again in 2021 if he didn’t get injured and miss four games. But his 3.9 career yards per carry isn’t great, even if his tape is a showcase of a hard-running style and top-shelf contact balance. He hasn’t had a chance to show off those skills in training camp through three days of practice.
“You need pads on to get good looks,” Montgomery said. “Like I show every year, my relentlessness to want to be the best version of myself. Whether I have the pads on or I don’t, I want to express myself as much as I can.
The Chicago Bears could have a tough decision with David Montgomery at the end of the 2022 season. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent next offseason. With running back being one of the easily replaceable positions in the NFL Draft, it’s unclear whether general manager Ryan Poles will open the checkbook for Montgomery.
Montgomery said Friday that he isn’t paying much attention to his looming contract situation, but if he gets off to a hot start, it’ll be impossible to ignore. The opposite is also true, however. A sluggish first month of the 2022 season could open the door for second-year back Khalil Herbert to get more playing time. If that happens, the odds of David Montgomery returning to Chicago in 2023 drop.
Don’t bet on him failing, though. Montgomery has too much heart.
“He’s been a pro— and he’s been that way since the beginning,” head coach Matt Eberflus said from training camp this week. “He’s a very serious-minded kid, young man, and he is all business. He’s done that since the day I met him. He’s real consistent.”