For Montgomery, It's Been Worth the Weight

By Mike Wise
Sunday, September 23, 2007

So this young guy who starred at Minnesota shows up at training camp last year. Huge kid. Six-six. Three hundred thirty-plus. Enough body fat to qualify for "Shaq's Big Challenge." And easygoing, too, in a way that bothered the Type A defensive coaches and left the Redskins with a dilemma:

What to do with this project, this fifth-round defensive tackle?

Easy. Make him a Hog, an offensive lineman. That's where much of the NFL felt Anthony Montgomery belonged.

"What they said was his temperament was more suited to offense," Coach Joe Gibbs said, referring to the scouting reports. "I don't know what that kind of means."

Gibbs knows: It was code for not ornery enough to be a defensive tackle, not intense and driven enough to pile-drive a fullback to the ground.

Gibbs said Montgomery took that opinion to heart, that he now "understands the frame of mind you have to play over there; you got to be a wrecking ball to play on that side."

When the difference between 2-0 and 0-2 is broken down -- or 5-11 and whatever record north of 5-11 the Redskins could end up with this year -- you need to start with the flabby rookie from a year ago.

You need to start with Tony Montgomery.

Less than a year after he was listed on the depth chart behind Joe Salave'a, Cornelius Griffin and Kedric Golston, Montgomery will start his fourth NFL game at defensive tackle today against the New York Giants. He still is large, pushing about 320 pounds. But through diet and vigorous offseason workouts, he drastically altered his body type. The fatigue is gone, along with the pounds and the paunch.

Gibbs has a real investment in Montgomery's development. He's the team president who decided against upgrading an aging defensive line through free agency or the draft. The more youngsters such as Montgomery and Golston shine, the more he looks prescient as a general manager. And right now, he looks prescient.

Last August, Montgomery feared he would be cut in the preseason. This August, veterans Salave'a and Renaldo Wynn did not make the roster.

Even the seen-it-all Gibbs calls Montgomery's transformation "amazing."

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