INGLEWOOD, Calif. — Bears running back David Montgomery doubled down on his speed training during the offseason to become more explosive on long runs than he was before.
It didn’t take long to see the results.
On the Bears’ first drive Sunday, Montgomery took a handoff left, made one cut behind the line of scrimmage and ran up the middle.
He was touched by two Rams: outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, whose right hand Montgomery swatted away just past the line of scrimmage, and inside linebacker Kenny Young, who shoved him out of bounds down the right sideline 41 yards later.
It was the fourth-longest run of Montgomery’s career. He had an 80-yard touchdown run against the Texans last season, a 57-yarder against the Packers last season and a 55-yarder against the Chargers in 2019.
For the last 18 months, Montgomery has been training with Hinsdale Central history teacher Chris Korist, who uses slow-motion cameras and computers at his home in Burr Ridge to optimize players’ speed.
Earlier this year, Montgomery said he realized he ‘‘didn’t know how to run’’ until he started doing the speed training.
Montgomery showed his strength, too.
Late in the first half, he was hit squarely in the backfield by Rams nose tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day, who, at 310 pounds, is almost 90 pounds heavier than Montgomery. But Montgomery bounced off him and plowed forward for a gain of three yards. He capped that drive with a three-yard touchdown run.
Last season, it took the Bears 18 quarters before their first rushing touchdown of the season.
Rookie running back Khalil Herbert’s job this season is to replace Cordarrelle Patterson, one of the most dominant kick returners of his era. He got off to a good start against the Rams.
In his first career play, Herbert returned the opening kickoff 50 yards. At one point, it looked as though he had the entire right-hand side of the field to himself, but he was pushed out of bounds by safety Taylor Rapp.
It was the Bears’ second-longest kick return of the last two seasons. Patterson posted a 104-yard kick return last season against the Vikings. Before that, his longest return was a 57-yarder against the Lions on Thanksgiving Day of 2019.
After competing against Marqui Christian for the starting job at slot cornerback throughout training camp, Duke Shelley was a surprise inactive before the game.
The Bears’ other inactives were receiver Breshad Perriman, inside linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe, offensive lineman Lachavious Simmons, tight end Jesper Horsted and nose tackle Eddie Goldman.
The Bears ruled Goldman out Saturday after he hurt his knee during practice last Monday.
Even though SoFi Stadium is a year old, the Rams held a grand-opening ceremony before the game to commemorate the first regular-season game with fans in attendance.
NFL Network broadcaster Rich Eisen — whose company moved into a studio in the stadium parking lot last week — served as the emcee.