The Ravens on Tuesday acquired Green Bay Packers running back Ty Montgomery in the franchise’s first NFL trade deadline deal, a low-cost move that could bolster the team’s lagging ground-game production.
Montgomery’s fumble after running a fourth-quarter kickoff out of the end zone Sunday cost quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers against the Los Angeles Rams, who ran out the final 1 minutes, 56 seconds in a 29-27 win. One Green Bay player told NFL.com that Montgomery's decision to not take a knee in the end zone “was him saying, ‘I’m gonna do me,’ ” after being unhappy over his removal from the offense’s previous series.
Montgomery did not speak with reporters after the game, but he told them Monday that he was concerned about where the ball would have landed had he not fielded it.
“I made a split-second decision: I don’t know if this is going to land on the goal line,” Montgomery said Monday. “Unfortunately, I ended up fumbling the football. I don't think we’d be having this conversation if I didn’t fumble the football because we know how good our two-minute offense is. But I’ve never been a guy to completely disobey what I’m being told.”
Montgomery, a pending free agent, ranked third on the team in rushing attempts (26), fourth in rushing yards (105), fifth in receptions (15) and sixth in receiving yards (170). He averaged 24 snaps per game on offense until Sunday’s loss, when he got just six.
With 4.8 yards per carry over his career, Montgomery should challenge Ravens starter Alex Collins and backup Buck Allen for playing time. But the 25-year-old did not enter the NFL as a running back.
A third-round pick out of Stanford in 2015, Montgomery was limited at wide receiver by an ankle injury during his rookie season, and was held without a catch for four of his first five games in 2016. After injuries to Packers running backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks, his role in the backfield expanded, and before a Week 14 game that year, Montgomery was moved to the team's running back depth chart.
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His next game was the best of his career — 16 carries for 162 yards and two touchdowns in a win over the Chicago Bears — but such success has since proved elusive. He averaged 34.1 rushing yards per game on 3.8 yards per carry last season, and 15 rushing yards per game on 4 yards per carry in seven Green Bay games this season.
Montgomery offers value as a kickoff returner (10 returns for 210 yards this season) and passing-game option (23.0 receiving yards per game over his career), but the offense’s greatest need ahead of Sunday’s game against the AFC North-leading Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2-1) is a sharpened rushing attack.
The Ravens (4-4) are second to last in the NFL in yards per carry (3.6) and have rushed for at least 100 yards in just half of their eight games this season, a threshold they hit in all but five games last year. Starter Alex Collins is averaging nearly a yard per attempt less this season (3.7) than during his breakout 2017 (4.6), and Allen is down to 2.6 from 3.9.
Only the Arizona Cardinals have as few 20-plus-yard runs in the NFL this year (one). Quarterback Lamar Jackson is responsible for the Ravens’ lone breakthrough.
“There are many things that have to happen, and we’ve identified them, and we’re going to keep working them, keep working them,” offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said Thursday. “And I have great confidence in that part of it. … Situationally, our running game has been really good in the field part. Just in the normal [situations, it] has not been quite as good as we would expect.”
In a corresponding move, the Ravens released veteran linebacker and special teams leader Albert McClellan. McClellan, 32, did not make the team’s season-opening 53-man roster but re-signed in mid-September after linebacker C.J. Mosley’s injury. He has three tackles this season and played in over 78 percent of the Ravens’ special teams snaps in each of his six games.
The Ravens rarely have been involved in midseason player deals. In 2015, they parted with a draft pick to acquire Miami Dolphins cornerback Will Davis and St. Louis Rams wide receiver Chris Givens. Two years earlier, they acquired Jacksonville Jaguars left tackle Eugene Monroe in exchange for a fourth- and fifth-round draft pick.