Bears notebook: David Montgomery focused on football

The Bears running back could be in a similar situation next year as Roquan Smith is this year — looking for a long-term contract after establishing himself as a consistently productive player. But he was unfazed by Smith not getting the deal he was looking for.

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Bears running back David Montgomery (32) makes a play in training camp.

Nam Huh, AP Photos

When the Bears stiff-armed linebacker Roquan Smith in his quest for a long-term contract after being a second-team All-Pro the last two seasons, teammates surely took notice. But running back David Montgomery was unfazed.

Montgomery could be in a similar situation next season. He has averaged 1,244 yards from scrimmage and eight touchdowns in his first three seasons — pretty impressive for offenses that ranked 29th, 22nd and 27th in scoring.

Smith’s contract episode did not concern him. It’s worth noting that he has an agent to deal with contract issues. Smith does not.

“I just come here to play football. That has nothing to do with me,” Montgomery said. “I’m sure everyone else is handling it who has to handle it. I’m just worried about football, and I’m ready to play.”

Montgomery, in fact, said his next contract is the least of his concerns.

“I’ve got bigger fish to fry,” Montgomery said. “I’ve got a game coming up this week [Saturday against the Browns]. I’m worried about that — not worried about a contract, none of that. I’m just trying to play football and have fun with that. Everything else will take care of itself. I’ve got no worries in the world.”

Herbert returns

Running back Khalil Herbert, who left Saturday’s practice on a cart but with no obvious injury, returned to practice Sunday. Defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad also practiced after missing practice Saturday.

Wide receiver Nsimba Webster did not practice Sunday. Also out were safety Jaquan Brisker, center Lucas Patrick, wide receivers Tajae Sharpe, N’Keal Harry and Byron Pringle, cornerbacks Tavon Young, Thomas Graham and Jaylon Jones and linebacker Caleb Johnson.

Big-play defense

After 6-4, 338-pound defensive tackle Khyiris Tonga rumbled 80 yards for a pick-six in practice Saturday, the defensive line created another takeaway Sunday when defensive tackle Angelo Blackson tipped a pass that linebacker Nick Morrow picked just before it hit the ground.

“It gives credibility to the H.I.T.S. principle, that there’s a reason why we turn and hustle and run to the football,” said defensive coordinator Alan Williams, referring to Matt Eberflus’ acronym for hustle, intensity, takeaways and playing smart that is the foundation of his philosophy.

“So when guys’ legs are a little bit dead and they go, ‘Coach, give me a little break today. This is why I’m not running because I’m a little tired,’ I go, ‘See this right here? That’s a game-changing play. That goes from maybe a field goal or possibly a touchdown to we intercept the ball, and you look over there and the other group, they’re deflated.’

“That’s a great step into the H.I.T.S. principle — why we run; why we turn the ball over. [It’s a] big deal.”

Military salute

The Bears recognized first responders and military groups at practice Sunday — an honor particularly meaningful to Williams, whose father was an Army officer and pilot in Vietnam.

“I know how it is, for those people to serve and give and sacrifice,” Williams said. “We owe a debt of gratitude. So I wanted to say thank you to them, and we appreciate them coming out and supporting us.”

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