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Angry running style serves Montgomery well

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While he marvels at David Montgomery's low center of gravity, that's not what impresses Damien Williams most about his fellow Bears running back.

"It's the way he runs," Williams said. "He runs with so much aggression. He runs with a chip on his shoulder. I want to ask him, 'What have you got going on personally that makes you run like this?'"

Montgomery can't explain his motivation for running angry, saying only that he tries to take advantage of every opportunity. Whatever the incentive, it has served the 2019 third-round pick from Iowa State well. In his first two seasons with the Bears, Montgomery has rushed for 1,959 yards and 14 touchdowns on 489 carries and caught 79 passes for 623 yards and three TDs.

Having worked on increasing his top-end speed and improving his receiving skills during the offseason, Montgomery seems primed for a breakout 2021 campaign. And after listening to recently retired NFL quarterback Alex Smith address the Bears Wednesday at Halas Hall, Montgomery no doubt will run with an even greater sense of urgency.

Smith overcame a devastating injury that nearly cost him his life to return to play with the Washington Football Team last season, earning the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award. He developed a life-threatening condition that required 17 surgeries, and at one point doctors considered amputating his right leg above the knee.

Montgomery was inspired by Smith's message.

"One thing that really stuck out to me was he spoke on, 'Are you living today?'" Montgomery said. "What that basically meant to me is, 'Am I taking advantage of the day? Or am I going out there, just wanting to get through it?'

"What you learn getting older in this league, I realize getting into my third year, it came faster than I expected. Whenever it's time for my career to end, I won't realize how fast it'll go until it's gone. So, I want to be sure, whatever opportunity I get to go out there, I can show my teammates and I can show myself that I belong to be out there."

Montgomery's renewed purpose manifests in different ways.

"I think my attention to detail and actually learning going into my third year being in the playbook, being in this offense, it's definitely coming to me a whole lot better," Montgomery said. "I do small things on my own, after practice catching JUGS and running gassers, so I can make sure I stay in shape."

Working with Montgomery for the first time, Bears first-year running backs coach Michael Pitre sees a player who is driven to get better.

"David is special," Pitre said. "He's always working to improve his game. It doesn't matter if it's in pass protection or speed. Anything where he feels a flaw in his game, an area where he can improve, he's going to put 100 percent of his effort into improving in that area. It makes it easy to coach guys like that."

In addition to working on his speed and pass-catching skills during the offseason, Montgomery also expressed a desire to become more of a team leader.

"He's a guy that wants to lead by example," Pitre said. "He's not going to say a ton, but he's going to let his work speak for itself. You watch practice; he's going to finish every rep to the end zone. He's going to take accountability for things. I think he just looks at that as, 'If I can show these guys how to take accountability, if I can show these guys how to work, that's only going to make us all better because of the competition in the room.'"

The Bears welcomed the Miami Dolphins to town for a pair of joint practices on the Halas Hall practice fields Wednesday and Thursday.

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