CHICAGO – It might not have been the No. 1 thing that Bears’ fans were hoping to see on Thursday night in the typically uneventful first preseason game of the year, but it was easily second.
Many were eager to see how the Bears’ kicking candidates – Elliott Fry and Eddie Pineiro – were going to do in their first game action considering the attention the competition has garnered since January. But the second most exciting prospect of the contest against the Panthers at Soldier Field was the debut of the Bears’ first draft pick of 2019.
After all, many raved about David Montgomery during training camp, but this was the first chance to see the running back against a different opponent. While his touches weren’t a significant amount – three carries, three catches – he did showcase some of the potential that fans have hoped for since his selection in April.
In the second quarter, the running back had a 23-yard reception that he picked up mostly after the catch, then scored a seven-yard touchdown in arguably of the biggest highlights of the night. It’s a small sample size for Montgomery, but the way he executed those plays and others continued Matt Nagy’s excitement for the running back come the 2019 season.
“I didn’t surprise me one bit. Not at all. I wish you guys could have been in the interviews at the combine. I wish you could have been in the interviews in my office. I wish you could be in the huddle in OTAs. I wish you could see how he was last night. This kid’s DNA is rare,” said Nagy of Montgomery. “I don’t want to overblow – he’s got a ways to go. I don’t want to make this..him the next great, you know, great back in this great organization, but he’s headed in the right direction.
“But he’s got great people around him and lets just getting a little bit better every day.”
Montgomery finished the game with 16 yards on three carries with a touchdown with three catches for 30 yards, making a reception each time he was targeted. His first two touches were short-yardage, rushing for four yards then making a catch for one on a drive late in the first quarter.
He would shine on the second drive despite the fact that it began with a five-yard carry was wiped out by a penalty. Montgomery then caught a short pass then burst to his right for a 23-yard gain into Panthers’ territory. After a run for five yards and a catch for six, the running back made his way to the endzone from seven yards out, cutting to the outside to get in for the score.
“It’s important, but just being able to be out there with the guys was the most important thing for me. Being able to get comfortable out on the field and being acclimated to the NFL with this being my first preseason, and it being my first NFL game, it was definitely good to get acclimated out there with the guys,” said Montgomery of the performance.
On each of the plays, short or long, Montgomery showed off elements of his power and agility as a runner, which was one of the reasons the Bears traded up some spots in the third round to draft him.
“The opportunities that he had was everything we thought he could do. He runs hard, he runs really, really hard, he runs violent and he’s angry when he runs and he’s tough to bring down with that first defender, and you could see run after the catch,” said Nagy of Montgomery. ” But then he made a nice play on special teams, too, saving that return.
“He wanted more. That kid won’t stop but I told him he’s — no more, he’s done.”
For this game he is, but plenty more is ahead for a running back who continues to make the best first impressions in a Bears’ uniform.