Bears see natural talent, and room to improve, in David Montgomery

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BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — Matt Nagy joked that rookie running back David Montgomery was so eager for live contact that he wasn’t speaking to his coach until the first padded practice of training camp. 

That was, of course, an exaggeration on Nagy’s part. Though Montgomery added: “I don't really talk much anyway.”

Montgomery finally had his opportunity to put the pads on in an NFL practice on Sunday in front of nearly 9,000 fans at Olivet Nazarene University, and then again on a rainy Monday morning. The results were a mixed bag. 

On the bad side: A poor mesh point on an option play on Sunday with Mitch Trubisky led to a fumble Khalil Mack scooped up and ran into the end zone. Montgomery also was burned in one-on-one pass protection drills by Roquan Smith in a sort of “welcome to the NFL” moment. 

But there was plenty of good, too. Montgomery looked fluid and tough with the ball in his hands, displaying the same running style that showed up on his tape at Iowa State. And he reeled in a pass in traffic up the seam from Chase Daniel on Sunday that was one of the better offensive plays on a largely sloppy day for that group. 

“I hold myself accountable for the bads I made at practice as opposed to the goods,” Montgomery said. “The good I’m supposed to do. The expectations that I have for myself — when I don’t do what I need to do and what needs to be done, that’s where it really comes for me.”

The Bears have high expectations for Montgomery, as do those outside the walls of Halas Hall — he’s already garnered some rookie of the year hype, for example. But these first two padded practices of training camp were a reminder of how much room for improvement the third-round pick has — yet also how much natural talent he possesses. The Bears will learn plenty more about him during preseason games, when there's truly live contact. 

As for his pass catching skills, which if everything goes right could make a massive impact on the Bears' offense, Montgomery said the details of running routes as a running back are “definitely new for me." He pointed to Tarik Cohen and Mike Davis as being accomplished in that regard, and being players he studies. 

But even as he picks those things up and adjusts to NFL defenders, he’s able to make plays with his natural talent like that big-chunk pass up the seam late in Sunday's practice. 

“Nothing is going to change from what we saw on tape at Iowa State,” Nagy said. “Nothing is going to change. He has some of the best vision that I’ve seen in a long time.”

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