Terron Armstead injury creates competition and concern
By Zach Leto
News broke yesterday that New Orleans Saints starting left tackle Terron Armstead would be starting training camp on the physically unable to perform list. Should there be concern?
According to Mike Triplett’s report, the injury is considered minor and Armstead should return to action soon. Of course, Saints fans know how ominous training camp injuries are: Jairus Byrd is a perennial occupant of the PUP with the “should return to action soon” designation.
If it is any consolation, Byrd is not on the PUP this year.
It is likely that the team is just being cautious with their cornerstone tackle whom they signed to a five-year, $64.5 million extension in early May. Considering Armstead played with a hurt knee for most of last season and missed two games because of the injury, a cautious approach is the right one.
Armstead has nothing to prove in training camp after establishing himself as one of the league’s premier blind-side protectors, another reason not to rush him back.
However, there are a handful of players competing for roster spots on the offensive line, and Terron Armstead missing time means that those players will get some highly valuable extra snaps.
It is unclear right now if Andrus Peat will take the snaps with the first-team at left tackle or stay at his new position of right guard, but either way, Peat is entrenched as a starter entering his sophomore season.
If Peat does take those snaps at tackle, then players like Tim Lelito and Senio Kelemete will have ample opportunity to try and lock down one of the starting guard jobs.
Many are hoping that one of the Saints undrafted linemen can sneak away with a job on the interior.
Landon Turner and Jack Allen were both All-American linemen in college as seniors, and they each have individual fanbases rooting for their success. Turner appears very motivated based on his excitement for showing up to training camp at weight after a quiet showing at OTAs and minicamp.
Cyril Lemon, Joseph Cheek, Kaleb Eulls, and Marcus Henry are all competing for spots on the interior as well. Each of them are long shots, but seeing as there is new opportunity available, their fires may be burning a little hotter.
Moving to the outside, the Saints now must pay closer attention to Ryker Mathews, Tyrus Thompson, and Avery Young. Young is on the PUP list himself, so he could be falling behind before the competition even starts.
Mathews and Thompson both have the requisite size and length to play on the outside. Of all the players, these two stand to benefit the most from Armstead’s absence considering AT LEAST one backup tackle job available.
If I had to put my money on one of those two locking down a roster spot, I would go with Thompson. He has a year of experience in the league and an advantage in the length and athleticism departments. Of course, both players have to prove that they can play all over the offensive line when the bullets start flying – a task that is much easier said than done.
Next: Saints positional previews: Offensive Line
Perhaps the biggest drawback to Armstead missing time is that offensive line chemistry will be thrown off.
New offensive line coach Dan Roushar has his work cut out for him.
It is already a sticky situation with new starters at the guard spots and an aging Zach Strief. Throw in the fact that the nine linemen not named Kelemete or Lelito have a combined ZERO GAME EXPERIENCE, and you might have a huge problem on your hands.
The Saints are potentially one serious injury away from disaster on the offensive line.
Training camp has not even started yet, so it is too soon to start screaming doom and gloom. In the meantime, fans should be optimistic about Armstead’s timely return and the healthy competition taking place in his absence.