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January 8, 2010

After two seasons with the Redskins, Montgomery hopes to remain there

By: Jimmy Robertson

Photo courtesy of the Washington RedskinsFormer Tech center Will Montgomery played in every game for Washington this past season and hopes to stay with the Redskins.
Versatility is good in any profession.

It’s a necessity in the NFL.

Will Montgomery knows this firsthand. He’s avoided the NFL’s unemployment line for the past four seasons, not just because of his talent, but more so because of his ability to play three positions on the offensive line – the two guard spots and center.

Montgomery, a former Tech center who earned first-team All-ACC honors in 2005, plays for the Washington Redskins these days – his third team in his four-year career. He started three straight games at right guard earlier this season after injuries decimated the Redskins offensive front, but he lost his job when head coach Jim Zorn wanted to get a bigger guy in the lineup. Zorn inserted Mike Williams, a 6-foot-5, 360-pounder, in the lineup over the 6-3, 305-pound Montgomery.

Still, Montgomery has played in every game this season, with a lot of his reps coming on the field-goal and extra-point teams.

“I had a great training camp,” he said. “I played center, but in the second game [of the regular season], Randy Thomas, our starting guard, got hurt [torn triceps] and I finished the last three quarters at guard. I got the opportunity to play the next three games at guard and I played well against Kansas City. But I made some mistakes in the other two games that I needed to correct. The coaches decided they wanted to go big at guard, so they started Mike Williams.

“When you’re starting and playing a lot, you definitely don’t want to give that up. But I got some valuable time at guard and I can still play both guard and center. The team still thinks I’m a valuable piece of the offensive line and can help them win games.”

Like this season, Montgomery’s career has been filled with twists and turns. The Carolina Panthers drafted him in the seventh round of the 2006 draft, and he played there for one season. Then, right at the beginning of the 2007 season, the Panthers waived him and he signed with the New York Jets three weeks later.

He spent the better part of two seasons with the Jets before they waived him at the end of the 2008 season. Yet he managed to find another team, signing with the Redskins in December of 2008, and he is under contract through this season.

Despite bouncing around, Montgomery has played quite a bit throughout his career. He played in six games with the Panthers and started four of them. He started two games in his first season with the Jets, though he did not play in any games a year ago. This season, he’s started three games.

“With the Jets, it was a numbers thing,” Montgomery said, referring to his second season in New York. “Most teams keep nine offensive linemen, and I made the team and dressed in some games. But the team had players at other positions get hurt and they had to pick up players for those positions, so they had to cut me. They ended up carrying only seven offensive linemen the rest of that season.

“But in week 14 or 15, I was fortunate that the Redskins signed me.”

The move to northern Virginia represented a return trip home for Montgomery, who went to high school in Centreville. In fact, the Redskins’ team headquarters resides in Ashburn, roughly 20 miles from Centreville.

“I’ve got a lot of family in the area,” he said. “I can go home for dinner any time I want and bring home leftovers.”

Montgomery keeps in touch with a few of his former teammates, including Jimmy Martin, Blake Warren, Jacob Gibson and Jared Mazzetta. He also talks frequently with another former Tech center, Jake Grove. He watches Grove, Denver center Casey Wiegmann and Indianapolis center Jeff Saturday because they’re all undersized centers like him.

“They’re all my body type and they’ve all had success,” Montgomery said. “I’d like to get a shot at playing center. I feel like I could be a 10-year pro as a center. I’ve played 10-12 games at guard, but I think I’m more effective at center and I hope someday to get that opportunity.”

Montgomery hopes that opportunity comes with the Redskins. Casey Rabach, the team’s starting center, is a free agent after this season.

“I hope it’s with the Redskins,” Montgomery said of his future. “I’ve started games and I know I can play. But I don’t know what will happen. If I make a great impression, I’ll be somewhere. All I can do is play hard and do what I do.

“I’m enjoying football. It’s a lot more fun when you’re winning games, but to me, it’s fun lifting and practicing and feeling the energy in the stadium on game day. That’s what you live for as a player, and hopefully I’ll continue playing.”