Zook expects rookie Montgomery to handle punts, kickoffs

Montgomery getting call on punts over Hyde

As Ty Montgomery walked gingerly through the Green Bay Packers’ locker room Thursday afternoon, heads repeatedly turned.

Given that the rookie third-round pick had sat out the final preseason game with hamstring tightness, the way he was walking was disconcerting.

Until he explained the reason.

“I broke in a new pair of cleats today [at practice],” Montgomery explained with a smile. “My feet hurt.”

Well, he’d better make sure those cleats are ready for Sunday’s regular-season opener at Chicago, because special teams coordinator Ron Zook indicated Thursday evening that Montgomery will handle both the kickoff and punt return duties.

The kickoff part was a foregone conclusion, as the Packers didn’t really work anyone else during the preseason that remains on the roster, at the behest of coach Mike McCarthy, who wanted Montgomery to get as much work as possible.

“Mike hasn’t told me for sure, but I’m assuming it’s probably going to be 88 (Montgomery),” Zook replied when asked of his kickoff plans.

The mild surprise is that Montgomery is apparently also getting the call on punt returns. Even though Micah Hyde’s 15.8-yard punt return average – one which included a pair of touchdown returns – would have led the NFL had he returned enough balls to qualify, Zook sounded like he plans on going with the rookie there, too, after Hyde didn’t do any returning during preseason. Montgomery returned three punts for 24 yards, with his longest being a 14-yarder.

“Micah hasn’t returned any this year, but I think 88 is coming into his stride. I feel good about what he’s done here,” Zook said. “Over the last couple weeks really, he’s got a pretty good feel for what we’re trying to do and I think we’ve done a little bit better job of doing the things that he can do.”