Bears RB David Montgomery motivated to make the most of the moment

He’s still only 24. But he is keenly aware he’s only 24 once — especially after hearing Alex Smith, the ex-Chiefs quarterback, talk to the team this week about football, life and making the most of both.

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Bears running back David Montgomery (32) had three 100-yard games last season, including a career-best 146 yards with two touchdown on 32 carries against the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on Dec. 20, 2020.

David Berding, AP Photos

From the quarterback on down, the Bears’ offense is one big question mark heading into the 2021 season. But of all the pieces the Bears hope will break out this year, running back David Montgomery looks like he’s most ready to go.

“He runs with so much aggression,” fellow running back Damien Williams said. “He runs with a chip on his shoulder. I want to ask him, ‘What have you got going on personally that makes you run like this?’ ”

Anger doesn’t appear to be Montgomery’s motivation as much as an almost serene confidence that this is his moment. He looks more comfortable than ever, not only on the field but off it — never more evident than in interviews.

A year ago, he was a reluctant, sometimes difficult participant, often giving disinterested, curt responses. This year, he has been absolutely engaging and confident, such as Thursday after practice, when he was promising to offer doughnuts and bragging about his bowling game, which apparently is at a level even higher than his running game — a 230-plus average with a two-handed delivery.

“People don’t know this — I’m really a bowler,” Montgomery said. “We’ve got some good bowlers on this team, too — [Darnell] Mooney and Justin [Fields]. We all go out and bowl. Mooney is really good. That’s a fun fact for the day.”

Montgomery offering doughnuts and fun facts sure seems like a sign that he is, at the very least, feeling pretty good about himself heading into his third NFL season. He’s motivated by a desire to make the most of the moment. He’s still only 24. But he is keenly aware he’s only 24 once — especially after hearing Alex Smith, the former Chiefs quarterback, talk to the team this week about football, life and making the most of both.

“I just try to take advantage of every opportunity,” Montgomery said. “We had Alex Smith talking to us [Wednesday], and the one thing that really stuck out to me was, ‘Are you living today?’ What that meant to me was, ‘Am I taking advantage of the day? Or am I going out there just wanting to get through it?’

“I realize getting into my third year, it’s come faster than I expected. So the only thing I can ever think is, whenever it’s time for my career to end, I won’t realize how fast it’ll go ’til it’s gone. So I want to be sure, whatever opportunity I get to go out there, I can show my teammates and I can show myself that I belong to be out there.”

Montgomery already has shown he can make the most of it. On an offense that ranked 26th in the NFL in total yards and 25th in rushing yards last season, he rushed for 1,070 yards on 247 carries — an average of 4.3 yards per carry — and eight touchdowns. That was a nice uptick from his rookie year, when he rushed for 889 yards on 242 carries (3.7 yards per carry) and six touchdowns.

“I think my lateral quickness has definitely picked up a bit,” Montgomery said, “as well as me being able to catch a flat, or catch a wide, I can pick it up a bit. Or when I put one foot in the ground, I can get up out of that. So I can definitely see a difference.”

Montgomery probably won’t get many snaps in Saturday’s preseason opener against the Dolphins, but he’ll take what he can get after two weeks of practice — where ball carriers are “tagged” and not tackled.

“It can get frustrating because sometimes people call it a tackle, but in my head I know it’s not a tackle,” Montgomery said. “You’ve just got to let it sit in and eat you for a little bit, so when it’s time to unleash it, you could unleash it.”

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