Should the Bears be without the rookie Montgomery -- who did not practice Thursday afternoon -- when they visit the Rams, they would be forced to rely upon Tarik Cohen, Ryan Nall and Cordarrelle Patterson at running back. Those three have combined for just 41 carries this season, including 29 from Cohen.
For a Bears offense that has struggled to establish the run, would an absent or limited Montgomery hinder any hopes of a balanced attack?
"You're going to have contingency plans for everybody and everything," offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich said.
As the Bears have searched for an offensive identity, coach Matt Nagy has come under scrutiny for a minimal reliance on the running game. In a loss to the Saints on Oct. 20, the Bears had a franchise-low seven rushing attempts. Montgomery rushed only twice for six yards that day.
Montgomery has carries 27, 14 and 17 times in the Bears' last three games, respectively. He has been established as the team's feature back, while Cohen has been used in more of a gadget role. Chicago's confidence in Montgomery was clear in its decision to release veteran running back Mike Davis last Saturday, a move that ensured the Bears retained a 2020 compensatory draft pick. Nall was promoted from the practice squad in a corresponding move.
It remains to be seen what the Bears would do without Montgomery. Cohen hasn't rushed more than five times in a game this season, and his highest number in the Nagy era is 13. Nall played his first career game last Sunday but didn't factor in the offense. Rookie Kerrith Whyte Jr. would have to be promoted from the practice squad if the team intends to use him. The 6-foot-2, 238-pound receiver Patterson could see an increased role out of the backfield.
Montgomery's ankle injury isn't considered serious, but it's enough that the Bears can't commit to his status for Sunday.
The Bears are 1-4 when Montgomery rushes fewer than 15 times in a game this season.