The Packers have found their long-term running back, and he’s a receiver

Ty Montgomery’s 162 rushing yards Sunday against the Chicago Bears were the most by a Green Bay Packer since someone named Samkon Gado ran for 171 in 2005.

Eddie Lacy – the bell cow of the Green Bay running game for four seasons – never ran for more than 150.

Ryan Grant had 201 in 2007, but that was in a playoff game.

There are two things that separate Gado and Montgomery, other than the 11 years between their big days: Montgomery is a receiver, not a running back; and Gado was a one-hit wonder, not the long-term solution in the backfield that Montgomery is starting to look like.

If the Packers are smart, the 23-year-old Montgomery – not Lacy, James Starks or a TBD rookie or free agent – will be their lead back in 2017.

When Green Bay lost Lacy and Starks earlier in the season, it had little choice but to turn to Montgomery during its first game against the Bears back in Week 6. Montgomery shared carries with two guys making their Packers debuts who are no longer on the roster – Don Jackson and Knile Davis – and had an impressive nine carries for 60 yards in a 26-10 win.

Dan Powers

But as the Packers got back Starks and added Christine Michael off waivers, Montgomery never got more than those nine carries again despite the fact he entered Sunday’s game averaging 5.2 yards per attempt.

The Packers’ ground game plodded, and Montgomery was nothing more than a change of pace. But what if the guy wearing No. 88 was the No. 1 option? With Starks out again after suffering a concussion in an automobile accident last week, Green Bay got to find out how that would look Sunday, and the results were spectacular: 16 carries, 162 yards, two touchdowns and broken tackles all over Solider Field in a must-have 30-27 win over the Bears.

Montgomery may wear that No. 88, but he’s no waif. He’s 5-foot-11, 216 pounds of muscle and seems as comfortable at the goal line or breaking those tackles as he is in the open field.

There was a 61-yard run after he was seemingly caught in the backfield …

A bruising finish to a 36-yarder …

And the aforementioned nose for the goal line:

Suddenly — when it comes time for the Packers to make a decision on Lacy, whose contract is up this offseason — it’s looking more and more like there’s little reason to go back to him, or to anyone else. Maybe — if the ankle injury that has held out Lacy since October is fully healed and he can stay in shape — he can return on a make-good contract to pound away at defenses in the fourth quarter with Montgomery as the main option, but Sunday sure seemed to mark the start of a new day in the Packers’ backfield.

Ty Montgomery is a running back, and the rest of the NFC North is going to have to deal with whatever that means alongside Aaron Rodgers slinging it all over the field again. Slap a No. 20 or 21 on him and he’ll only look better doing all those running back things that he did Sunday.