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John DeShazier: Understated, soft-spoken Terron Armstead lets his play speak for him

Team's anchor at left tackle recently returned to lineup

White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. – If you're waiting for Terron Armstead to break out and be anything other than the person he has been since the New Orleans Saints made him a third-round draft choice in 2013, stop holding your breath.

Thirty-one consecutive starts at left tackle, perhaps the glamour position among offensive lineman, hasn't done it.

A lucrative, five-year contract extension hasn't done it.

Unanimous praise from his teammates hasn't done it, notably from right tackle Zach Strief, who, on several occasions, has said that the fourth-year player is a future All-Pro, who already would have been one if voters on such awards really, truly paid attention to the tape.

"That's my guy Zach," Armstead said. "I'm just trying to do my job to the best of my ability, whatever that is. Whatever Coach (Sean Payton) or any player needs me to do, I try to do it to the best of my ability, 100 percent.

"Just want to win."

He remains understated, almost soft spoken. But when Payton issues one of his top compliments – the game "means something to him" – then Armstead's actions seem to scream the words that he won't.

The Saints consider him one of the best in the business for a reason and now that he's back to being a full participant in practice, after opening training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list, the offensive line is close to being whole.

Armstead's return allowed Andrus Peat to move from left tackle back to right guard, the position that Peat was working during the offseason before Armstead missed time.

"You're a little healthier," Payton said. "Andrus is playing inside. Terron is, we think, a real good left tackle. He's trying to dust the rust off and kind of get back into playing shape.

"I think he's extremely smart. Typically, when you have a young player that's excelled like he has, there's something down inside that motivates him. He's extremely athletic and then you put his ability with his mental toughness and his makeup, the guy has really grown up right in front of our eyes and become a real good NFL player.

"There's usually a combination of talent (and mental toughness and intelligence). He is athletic and he's able to stay in front of the rush. It seems kind of simple, but he can stay in front of them."

He's been able to do so on game days, and in the days leading up to the games.

"I love competing against him, going up against him," defensive end Kasim Edebali said. "You've got to bring your 'A' game all the time. You've got to have your hands right, you cannot just come in there with an 80 percent rush. You've got to be 100 percent all the time.

"He's smart, he's athletic, he's strong, he has long arms. He just gets to you really fast, he has a good grip. He's just like the full package when you rush against him."

The package hopes to be on display Saturday night, in the Saints' second preseason game, against the Texans at NRG Stadium in Houston.

Armstead still has work to do before he totally is back to being the player he expects of himself, but he's happy to be back working.

"It's been good," he said. "It's been good conditioning, cardio, trying to knock the rust off technique-wise, getting in a groove with the offensive flow. O-linemen work as a unit so just trying to get back in the same groove as the rest of those guys."

And at his core, nothing has changed.

"It's a daily process of trying to get better," he said. "Trying to improve any aspect of the game I'm trying to focus on that day. I've been trying to do that since I walked in the door."

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