Thursday was the 37th anniversary of Wilbert Montgomery’s stirring jaunt across the frozen Vet turf and through the Dallas Cowboys’ defense, Montgomery carrying the Eagles to Super Bowl XV with 194 yards on 26 carries, including a touchdown scored on the second play of the NFC championship game.
Torrey Smith, a wide receiver for the current Eagles, who face the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday in the divisional round of the playoffs, didn’t know what Montgomery meant to Philadelphia when he met Montgomery in 2011, Smith’s rookie season with the Baltimore Ravens.
Smith knew Montgomery as the Ravens’ running backs coach, a position he held from 2008-13.
“I definitely was not a running back, but he was a guy you could talk to about anything,” Smith said this week. “Whether it was football, if I was struggling mentally, or with family, or whatever –- real life stuff. He was someone I could lean on.”
Smith found out about Montgomery and the Eagles when the Ravens visited in September 2012, and the Eagles honored the franchise icon on the visiting sideline.
“I remember them showing him on the big screen,” said Smith, who said he also became aware then that LeSean McCoy was chasing Montgomery’s franchise rushing record, something McCoy would eclipse in his final Eagles season of 2014.
“He kinda didn’t make a big deal of it, but then looking through the Gameday [program], you see he’s all over the place. That was pretty cool.”
Smith said that Montgomery, who hasn’t coached in the NFL since he and the rest of Browns coach Mike Pettine were fired at the end of the 2015 season, “is authentic. He’s very real … He just has a calmness about him, like nothing’s ever too big, because he’s been there. For me, being a young guy in the league, honestly his impact was bigger than football.”
They remain in contact, Smith said.
The Eagles listed middle linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and rookie corner Sidney Jones as questionable for Saturday’s game, both with hamstring problems, though Ellerbe was a full practice participant Thursday, and has indicated he expects to play.
Jones, who has not spoken with reporters this week, was listed as a limited participant. He made his NFL debut in the regular season finale against Dallas, after recovering from an Achilles’ tear suffered last March.
It wasn’t clear Jones would be active again this week, even if he were healthy; he is hardly in midseason form. The hamstring problem would seem to make it unlikely.
Darby says he’s ready
Eagles corner Ronald Darby, acquired from Buffalo in August, said he has never played the Falcons, never faced Julio Jones. Darby’s message Thursday was that Jones, with 88 catches for 1,444 yards this season, is only one of several important Falcons weapons.
Darby acknowledged he doesn’t know what to expect in his first postseason experience.
“It’s my first playoff game, so I know it’s going to be hectic, the crowd’s going to be very involved,” he said.
The team practiced at Lincoln Financial Field on Thursday. Darby said that with the bye week under their belt, the Eagles were sharp.
“People flying around, people feeling good,” he said. “Ready to compete.”