It’s amazing the difference a year can make.
When Anthony Armstrong came into camp last year, it was his first Redskins training camp, and the team had more questions than answers at the wide receiver position. He was seen as an intriguing addition: an unknown with low risk and moderate reward.
Over the course of last season, Armstrong showed the Redskins that they had found a gem, and he comes into camp this year as a favorite for a starting nod. He reported in terrific shape and has set the tone for the rest of the receiver corps–veterans and rookies alike.
Part of his ability to be a leader on the field comes from his experiences going though the Intense and Arena Football leagues before getting a crack at the NFL. Another part of it was his summer gig as a 7-8 year old soccer coach. His Loudoun County rec team, the Ninjas, learned as much from him as he learned from them.
“We ended up, I think it was like 6-1-1, or something like that,” he said. “I think that the kids kind of got comfortable with me, and I got comfortable with them. They were able to just go out there and have fun and play.”
In turn, this experience helped Armstrong prepare the rookie receivers for the transition to the pro game.
“This summer when we were locked out, and we had those workouts, I was trying to coach those rookie receivers a little bit,” he said. “I was trying to help those guys out and give them information into what we were doing. It’s hard to get everybody on the same page and coach everybody up.”
As a polished veteran at age 28, but only in his second year in the NFL, Armstrong has both perspectives out on the field. He sees the rookies adjusting well to the pros, but also knows what they’re going through midway through their first camp.
“Right now, they’re hitting that wall, to where you’ve been doing camp for a little while, you start getting a little frustrated,” he said. “Mentally and physically you might have a little setback, they have to be able to fight through that and go further.”
“But they’re picking up on it well, and they’re going out there making plays. They’re going to make a strong push as well, so it’s gonna be a good competition at receiver.”
Armstrong learned a long time ago not to take anything for granted. When the organization added three receivers in the draft, Armstrong knew that he would be tested. He’s approaching his job right now, one day at a time.
“Shoot man, right now I’m just right in the middle of things,” he said about his role on the team. ”I’m just a guys who’s trying to make the team just like everybody else. Whatever it takes to get on the field is whatever I’ve gotta do.”
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