Ty Montgomery didn't panic last season when he was asked to move from receiver to running back – pretty much the day before the New Orleans Saints played the regular-season finale on the road against Carolina – because he'd been in that situation before, he said.
He similarly filled that request when he played for Green Bay.
Plus, even though he was expected to have an expanded role at receiver, he'd practiced at running back for the Saints in training camp and during the season. So when the running back position was shut down due to Covid-19 exposure and protocol – running backs Alvin Kamara, Latavius Murray and Dwayne Washington, fullback Michael Burton and running backs coach Joel Thomas all were ruled out against the Panthers – Montgomery was the logical next man up because he was the only man up.
And it gave him a chance to put some shine on what had been an injury-slowed season: 18 carries for 105 yards in New Orleans' 33-7 victory.
"For myself, I just feel like it was a statement game, I guess," said Montgomery, who agreed to a one-year contract to return to New Orleans last week. "For the past two or three seasons, I've had very limited opportunities and to finally get a game where I'm the featured back or whatever, there's just a bunch of opportunity for me in one game I think I went out and showed that I can still play. I belong in this league.
"There's no slacking on my end and I definitely think there's more that I can show. That game, I was just getting the ball and getting downhill. I know some areas where I can work on. Once I get that comfort back, get back out there – and that game was definitely helpful – I'll start being able to make more moves down the field, create some bigger plays. That's what I'm about."
Montgomery, who played in six regular-season games (he missed five while on injured reserve due to a hamstring injury, and was inactive for another five), said he returned to the Saints in part because of the multiple roles and opportunities presented on offense.
"The injuries came at a bad time," he said. "They were really fluke-ish injuries – I haven't been a soft-tissue guy over my career, so to have a couple of hamstring (injuries) was very frustrating. But it's definitely something I'm going to be on top of this year.
"Hopefully what I showed in that final week can bring me more opportunities but whenever it's ready, wherever they want me to be, I'm going to be ready to go."
That could be at running back or receiver, or as a returner on special teams (two kickoff returns for 57 yards last year).
"I haven't had any of those conversations (about a specific position)," he said. "My mind-set is to just be ready for whatever. I have a skill set as a running back, I have a skill set as a receiver, I do have a skill set at returner and I can play special teams. I'm just going to continue to get better in every aspect and try to contribute to the team however I can."
A significant aid to that will be the ability to practice with teammates this offseason. Last year, when Montgomery initially signed with the Saints, the entire offseason program was nixed due to coronavirus concerns. The bonding process that would have occurred during between the newcomer, his teammates and coaches in OTAs and minicamps didn't happen.
"I'm very excited about that," he said. "Obviously, the offseason is kind of critical. For myself, it can be very beneficial just to get out there and really get integrated more, instead of just kind of being thrown into the fire for training camp. So I'm excited to have a full offseason, to be around everyone not just once, but twice, and really developing a strong rapport."