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Anthony Armstrong Refuses To Focus On The Positive

Posted by Matt Terl on August 19, 2010 – 4:42 pm

Every time I talk to Anthony Armstrong, the conversation goes roughly the same way. I point out that he’s having an excellent OTA/mini-camp/training camp, he responds that he’s just working to make the team and doing his best and that what he’s done is less important than what he’s gonna do tomorrow. I try to make him say, “Yeah, I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished,” and he talks incessantly about what he HASN’T done.

Well, with training camp ending today, I decided that it was time to have that conversation again. This time, though, I attempted to preempt him by predicting what he was going to say. It didn’t work.

“This is exactly that part where I tell you that just keep working every day,” he said, after I had capped a long, rambling list of his accomplishments this offseason with that prediction. “That’s really been my mantra as of late. You gotta just take all the stuff and put it in the past, you know, build on it. Keenan [McCardell, wide receivers coach] always says, ‘Put something in the bank, every day put something in the bank, and then gameday you get to reap the rewards’.”

I honestly found this frustrating.
This is a guy who — as I have endlessly recounted — has come up through a whole variety of little-known football leagues and other teams’ practice squads, and now finds himself ending training camp as a likely contributor to an NFL roster. That should be something that a guy can take pride in, and it seemed like Armstrong’s (understandable) focus on the future might be preventing him from doing that.

“You have to soak it in,” he explained. “Yes, I know that I have done well, but you just can’t…you can’t dwell on it. You can’t let that determine what you’re gonna do tomorrow because it’d be too easy for me to get complacent, be like, Oh yeah, I had a great camp, you know, I’m gonna be on this team, this and that, but you know, if I don’t keep focused on tomorrow and make sure I have a good day tomorrow and so on and so forth and all that stuff that happened in the past really doesn’t matter.”

Which is true, of course. But — for example — in practice today, the final practice of training camp, Armstrong found himself running under a perfectly thrown Donovan McNabb pass and catching what would’ve been a long touchdown. It seemed like the sort of thing he should be able to take some joy in.

“That was a great pass,” he said, enthusiastically “It was right trajectory. I told him it was a great ball. That’s exactly how I like it. I don’t have to worry about adjusting too much, just run right through it, keep my speed up and run in the end zone.”

So, yes, that elicited some excitement, but the fact that he’s now catching passes from a guy that Armstrong calls “one of the greatest guys ever to play the game”? That he’s kinda blase about.

“When you’re on the field,” he explained, “and you’re working the chemistry, you just have to be able to speak to each other on the same level. You know, initially when we first signed him, I was getting text messages like crazy, like, ‘You’re gonna get to catch a pass from Donovan McNabb!’ It was like that at first, but now everything’s kinda settled down, it’s like he’s…he’s my quarterback. I have to catch passes from him, it’s an everyday occurrence. I can’t get too, you know, built up about it.”

Which shouldn’t be too hard for Armstrong. It is, after all, the way he’s approached the entire offseason.

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