Packers' Bakhtiari: Ty Montgomery could be bell cow

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Ty Montgomery is expected to make the full-time transition to running back this coming season, which was welcome news for at least one of his offensive linemen, who saw Montgomery as a natural all along.

"He's a natural runner," Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari told me Friday. "People take the idea of being a wide receiver a little too literal. He was a big wide receiver, almost 230 (pounds). He's solid. So when we saw him running, able to break tackles, he looked natural. He's just an athlete. You put him in a spot and he'll mold to that."

Bakhtiari liked what he saw out of Montgomery enough that he would be confident having him as Green Bay's bell cow in 2017. Former lead back Eddie Lacy, who played just five games this season before sustaining an ankle injury that cost him the rest of the year, is a free agent. While Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said he would "love to see" Lacy back next season, it is unclear how Lacy's market will develop in free agency.

"Absolutely," he said. "I'm confident in the guys up on the third floor with the Green Bay Packers (the personnel department). They know what they're doing. They're going to put the right guys in the right places and they'll give us whatever weapons we need to go out there and compete with the end goal of going to the Super Bowl."

Both Lacy and the Packers have expressed a desire to reunite. The team has a history of bringing back their own players, though NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport noted that general manager Ted Thompson might be inclined to get more aggressive in free agency this offseason. Theoretically, Lacy's injury this offseason might make him an unfortunate candidate for a one-year, "bet on yourself" deal before cashing in.

"Eddie and I were drafted together, I'd say one of my best friends," Bakhtiari said. "Love the kid. It's really sad about his ankle but I'd love to have him back of course." Should Thompson look elsewhere, he won't have a hard time recruiting running backs to play behind Green Bay's line. Corey Linsley, T.J. Lang and Bryan Bulaga also had excellent seasons and could have made a case for Pro Bowl bids alongside Bakhtiari.

Montgomery, Aaron Rodgers and Lacy all averaged more than five yards per rushing attempt this season. Fullback Aaron Ripkowski averaged 4.4.

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