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Terron Armstead showing no signs of slowing down for New Orleans Saints

'It's a blessing to be around for so long'

The New Orleans Saints take the field on Aug. 18, 2021 for Saints Training Camp presented by SeatGeek at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center.
The New Orleans Saints take the field on Aug. 18, 2021 for Saints Training Camp presented by SeatGeek at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center.

It was a playful declaration by Erik McCoy, a wink and grin owed to good-natured needling more than his demonstrated ability to sprint down the field arguably like no NFL centers, and like few offensive linemen, period.

But when you're talking about speed, and you're saying you're the fastest New Orleans Saints offensive lineman, Terron Armstead is going to have a little something to say about that.

Armstead famously ran a 4.71-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine in 2013, the fastest time ever recorded at the Combine for an offensive lineman.

"Erik broke it down to me that he has to say that on camera because he said it on social media," Armstead said, smiling. "But deep down in his heart of hearts, he doesn't feel like he's more athletic than me or faster than me."

In other words, Armstead, the Saints' three-time Pro Bowl, one-time All-Pro left tackle, doesn't see himself slowing down. Since Armstead stepped into the starting lineup in the 15th game of his rookie season, he has started every game he has played.

Assorted injuries have prevented him from playing all 16 regular-season games in any season, but back-to-back seasons of 15 (2019 season) and 14 starts (2020) is the best streak of availability he has had in his career.

That, and his dominance on the field – if Alvin Kamara hadn't tied the NFL single-game record with six rushing touchdowns against Minnesota on Christmas Day last season, Armstead's highlight reel possibly would have been the most impressive one that day – has helped make him the elder statesman of the Saints' offensive unit, and an unquestioned leader.

"I embrace it," Armstead said. "It's been a role of mine for a few years now, so it's not new to me. We've got a ton of great leaders on this team, even some of the guys that are stepping into roles now. (Quarterbacks) Taysom (Hill) and Jameis (Winston) both are really great leaders. But it's nothing new to me, I've been in this role and this position for a few years now."

But until this season, he never has been the oldest on offense in terms of Saints experience.

"Being that old guy? It's great," he said. "It's a blessing to be around for so long, and being around such a great organization for so long. It's been amazing.

"Honestly speaking, I had no idea (I'd last this long as a Saint). I was trying to do my job to the best of my ability, improve every day. But I can't say I knew I would be here right now."

He is, with an offensive line that probably is the strongest unit on the team, with five returning starters and several key backups. Armstead, a third-round pick, is the lowest drafted player among the starters, which has three first-rounders (right tackle Ryan Ramczyk, right guard Cesar Ruiz and left guard Andrus Peat) and a second-rounder (McCoy).

"We've got a great group," Armstead said. "We've got a lot of work to do still, but we're doing it. We're fine-tuning everything. We've got a lot of great depth.

"A lot of teams are probably real comfortable with their starting five, but we've got six, seven, eight, nine that can step in and play. And that's huge going forward. We get a lot of great work in, pushing each other, competing against each other. I definitely feel like the offensive line is the strength of this team.

"From a communication standpoint, it is a little bit more of an added responsibility, more so for Erik than anything. But we all try to overly communicate, to make sure we're on the same page. That just helps the quarterbacks and everyone get comfortable, and just go out and play fast."

As he celebrates his birthday, we take a look at offensive tackle Terron Armstead years in uniform with the New Orleans Saints.

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