Bears camp: David Montgomery skips doughnuts, jerky to ‘feel amazing’

The result: The Bears’ top running back is about six pounds lighter than he was last year, when he played at 224 pounds.

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Bears running back David Montgomery practices Saturday.

AP Photos

David Montgomery stopped eating red meat this offseason. He pushed away beef jerky — the flamin’-hot flavor was his favorite — and the Swiss cheese he liked so much as a rookie.

“To me, it was the best in the world,” he said. “I realized that it wasn’t good for me. Whenever I felt the craving for a Krispy Kreme doughnut, I’d definitely go have one back in the day. But now I fight the urge to go have one.”

The result: The Bears’ top running back is about six pounds lighter than he was last year, when he played at 224 pounds.

“I feel amazing, actually,” he said. “I’m not as sore as I was last year just because of the food that I don’t eat that has a lot of inflammation to it. Just being able to run and just how I’m running and being able to make the right cuts and stuff like that, it definitely feels good.”

A player making the best-shape-of-my-life claim is typical training-camp fare, as is a second-year player learning from his rookie mistakes. Montgomery’s weight loss is noteworthy, though, in the sense that the rest of the Bears’ rushing attack underwent a similar offseason transformation. The Bears hired offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and offensive line coach Juan Castillo, who is the de facto run-game coordinator, to try to fix an attack that averaged 3.7 yards per carry last year, fourth-worst in the NFL.

But coach Matt Nagy also needs to develop an appetite to run the ball. He said in October that he knew the Bears needed to run more — “I’m not an idiot,” he said — but has never, in two years, established a consistent attack.

If he can this year, it will be on the back of Montgomery.

The others in his position room are a running back who’s a more effective receiver (Tarik Cohen) and a receiver the Bears hope to convert to a runner (Cordarrelle Patterson). Ryan Nall has two career carries, and Artavis Pierce is an undrafted rookie.

“Last year coming in as a rookie, I think [Montgomery’s] expectations were set really high, which you love,” Nagy said. “And then you go through a season like we went through, and there can be frustration at times. But I’m just trying to be the best mentor and coach that I can be to him. We have a wonderful relationship. We have a lot of respect for each other. And I like the way that he handles his day-to-day operations. He realizes how important he is to this offense.”

Running backs coach Charles London has been pleased with his adjustment to the new scheme, which he said is similar to the one Montgomery had at Iowa State.

“A lot of it is about training your eyes and trusting your path and trusting the blocks,” London said.

Montgomery averaged only 3.7 yards per carry — 889 yards on 242 rushes — as a rookie.

“I was a lot slower than I know I was capable of moving at, and it affected the game,” he said. “I kind of got in the way of myself as far as what I ate last year. I didn’t really care. I was a rookie. I was just eating whatever, but now it’s definitely a main focal point in my everyday life. It’s just being sure I put the right things in my body, so it can carry over to the field.”

It’s one of many things that feel different in Year 2.

“Just being able to understand a lot of stuff I didn’t understand as fast last year — like understanding the offense more, knowing concepts, knowing defenses, knowing the personnel,” Montgomery said. “Just being on top of that. [To compare] how fast the game was for me last year and seeing it kind of slow down here is pretty cool to see.”

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