New Orleans Saints Tackle Terron Armstead
Training Camp Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, July 29, 2020
Can you talk about how this week has worked and how many times you've gone for a test?
"First off, good morning everyone. This week has been different for sure. A lot different than past reporting days. All we've pretty much been doing is going in for Covid testing and filling out a questionnaire on if you have any symptoms and that's it. We are supposed to be self-quarantining for the rest of the day. Go back and test again (the next day), same thing. We didn't have to test today, but we'll be back to testing tomorrow morning. Then I think after that we start the physicals Saturday."
Normally it's exciting to return for camp, but what is the feeling like returning to camp this year?
"Still a bit of uncertainty, still unchartered territory for sure. We're just trying to go with the flow and figure out exactly what we need to do and where we need to be. It still was that same excitement seeing guys, (but) we have different testing times. Pulling up and going to test and by the time you take off you see a few of the guys and it's always great, like the first day of school seeing the guys again."
What kind of challenge will this ramp up period present to the offensive line?
"Just do our best to try and make up for the lost reps, that lost time. It's great for us to have four returning starters and a guy that I've heard great things about in Cesar (Ruiz) to come in, be a quick learner and grasp the offense pretty fast. And even past the starting five we've got a ton of returning guys from last year with a lot of experience and some really intelligent young men. I think we'll be able to take on the challenge head on and we're going to be rolling and try to get up to full speed as soon as possible. But we are going to get it down."
Is there anything extra you guys have to do to get Cesar Ruiz up to speed?
"Yeah, the young guys have been in those virtual meetings, going through the playbook. They have to learn the playbook. That's extremely important for him. So by the time we get on the field, we just hit the ground running. There is not much time to slow roll it. We're on a limited clock before we take some real snaps. (We'll) try to make every single rep count, all the practice time, all the meeting time, we'll make all of that count. It's nothing that any of us did to put ourselves in this situation, but we're here now."
Is there any way to replicate hearing Drew Brees make the long play calls and the cadence in meetings or do you just need to get on the field for those?
"Yes, that's something (where) you have to go out there and do it. We have time, we have six weeks and that's enough time. The margin for error's just smaller. We just have to be locked in everyday to make sure we're being productive with our time. But we have time. Those guys are going to hear Drew's (Brees) snap count a couple thousand times before the first game. We have time to get those things in, we just have to get it in."
Did you ever think about opting out of this season?
"No, I never thought about opting out at all. If the season was going to take place I was going to be here. Definitely, (I'm) taking Covid seriously and everything that surrounds it. I'm thinking about my family and everything, but I never thought about opting out for the season."
Have you had to do any extra mental preparation realizing that this season is going to be completely different than what you're used too?
"Mentally, not really, just making sure that I stay self-motivated and be productive every day. Just try and get better every day. A lot of guys work out in big groups and that kind of can get them going, but being limited from those type of things you have to find your own motivation to make sure you're grinding every day to push yourself. A lot of guys compete to push themselves, but you don't really have those big groups that we would normally been working out in. So having that self-motivation is about the mental thing that we could do at this time."
Is there anything you can identify that you will have to stop doing with Covid that you'd normally do?
"Yeah, yeah, it is. And it comes up every day. Like when we, you know, on Tuesday when we see a guy walk up. It's like a quick game of Rock/Paper/Scissors, you don't know if he's open handed or closed fist. You don't know what we're gonna do. So just those type things that you never have (to think about). Everybody (used to) just walk up shake hands. Now you bump fists or you bump elbows. Wearing a mask everywhere. I've been doing pilates in the city and trying to do pilates with a mask on has been another challenge. But those (are) small things, these are real life situations people have to adjust to. It's just the time we're in and we got to do our duty to try to help get over this thing."
Wait so like somebody came up to you for a high five and it was just like, not at all knew what to do.
"Multiple times, like ten different times open hand or closed fist. It is like rock or paper."
*Is pilates new for you or have you been doing them for a while? *"(It's) Something I have been doing. Probably did it more this offseason. More than in years past. We've been doing it on zoom calls actually. But since I've been back in the city been in the studio and it's been great for me, productive."
Can you describe what makes Cameron Jordan unique and special as an edge rusher?
"Really because he is those two things. He's unique and special. He is a special talent and a unique defender, as in a lot of pass rushers, you know, just focus on pass rush and his ability to play the run. A lot of guys you feel like you can get your advantage back in the run game. I'm going to try to punish them in the run game, but Cam is kind of wearing you out in both. His size and the movement abilities you need to be able to have both, so you cannot try to take away one, like I am going to take away power and try to make him go hands or finesse he want to do that too. Or you want to go hands and finesse and he goes home run straight through you. (He is) unique and special. Those are the two words to describe that guy. Great, Hall of Famer.They got a long list."
Do you feel like offensive lineman are taking on more risk with Covid-19 than other positions.
"No, I don't think that. I mean, it's impossible to tell really, you know, everybody's going to be in contact in the huddle throughout various parts of the game. So at some point, well not even at some point, multiple points, many points in a game contact is inevitable. So I don't think one or two position groups are more likely, I think the playing field is kind of even once we step on that field."
Do you think you can mitigate risk on a football field?
"I don't think it's possible."
Who's winning a rap battle between you, C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Sean Payton?
"I'm not really the battle rapper guy, I'm a better fan. Sean on other hand, you know, I'm going to take myself out, if Sean and Chauncey were battling. I got Sean for sure because it's gloves off with him. And he's going to hit you where it hurts. That's what battle rappers do. Sean has no problem getting to that level, I've seen it."
How confident are you as a team leader that the situation with Drew Brees is behind you and it won't be an issue in the locker room going forward?
"Extremely, extremely confident. Drew faced everything head on, that is all there is and that is all you can ask for. The best way to move forward is they face everything head on. Invite any questions, comments or concerns. I'm sure it'll be addressed again, once we're all together and you know make sure everyone gets a chance to express anything if it needs to be or anything of sort. Yeah, we're definitely going to be ready to get to ball, not dismissing any of those off the field social issues, they need to remain and continue to be present and thought about and talked about. But not in a distracting way at all. In a way of progress and just like we want to be the leaders of that."
Were you conflicted at all by that by that situation?
"I wasn't conflicted, just tried to collect my thoughts and words before I spoke and spoke to him pretty quickly and we (were) talking and all understood the problems and issues. I voiced my disappointment in his statement for sure. And he felt that, noticed that and it respected it. And like I said, he just attacked the entire thing head on, the fact that him hurting people that's been so close to him for so long. I know and he knows that's not something that he would do or something he would ever intentionally do. Me knowing Drew, I wasn't going to jump out the window at all and so I just wanted to talk to him and figure things out like brothers do."
Are the players allowed in the building?
"We haven't been allowed in the building at all. No parts of it. The COVID station is outside, you walk in and it's on the side of the cafeteria. You check in, do you the test, enter one door, exit the next and get to the car."
You're there but you're not really there?
"It is. I'm assuming Saturday is going to be (the) more important day."
I know usually about this time of year you dish out school supplies to the kids in the community. With just with everything going on, have you had to kind of reconsider just how you're going to be involved in activities like that?
"Yeah, we're going to do some sort of it. We've already started the planning with Lish (Elicia Broussard Sheridan), she's already forward thinking and trying to figure out a way to get it done without contact, social distancing guidelines. A lot of those things can't stop. It's probably even more of a need than ever before, the giveaways, the food drives, all those type things are definitely a necessity. My foundation and the things that the New Orleans Saints do, we can't stop those things because of what everyone's dealing with, I think it's maybe even more of a need than ever before."
The OL Masterminds convention in Dallas this summer that you are one of the leading forces of, just the sharing of ideas with other players, how beneficial is that then for you just to be able to talk to other guys and learn from one another?
"It is great. It is a great chance to see how other pros do things, how they prepare, what is their gameplan against certain rushers or certain rushes and you can just compare and contrast. It's great to get different points of views, thought processes, O-linemen are always the best guys so just being around so many great guys never hurts. Just sharing ideas, preparation, routines, guys discussing injuries, injury history, what others did to get back from those or prevent in the best way possible. Masterminds is a great event."
What's the mindset of just the team overall right now? You've won more games than anybody in the NFL the last three years, I know you've been disappointed not getting back or not getting to the Super Bowl. What's the mindset for this team going in and expectations for this team in the season?
"It has got to be Super Bowl or bust in all honesty. That's it. It is not really anything else past that, it is Super Bowl or bust. If we don't get to the big dance, it was a failure of a season."
How confident are you that the season will be completed and that the NFL can pull this off with the pandemic going on?
"It's hard to say, it's hard to predict. The only thing we can do is what we can do and that's try to be proactive in the guidelines of being distant and taking precautionary measures, but past that there's really nothing that we can we can control. I know it's going to look different, we would love to have fans in the stands. That's always the energy and the feel of the sport, of sports period. We're just going to have to go through all those things. Try to cross out or check off every scenario, every what if that can pop up surrounded by COVID and do our best."
You mentioned no fans in the stands. How easy would that make for you guys just as far as communication on the line?
"No, that will be wack. The fans make the sport, every sport, the fans make it. That is the biggest part of the game is a team and the fans, the crowd, the energy, momentum, and all that. That is what made the game so special. It will be tough. That is a different challenge. I know for our team, we have goals. We have one goal, it's a big one. So we can't let anything whether it's no fans, whether it's whatever, no preseason. We're trying to get to the big dance. We've just got to take in anything, any challenge, take it as adversity and work through it."
A couple people talked about like using the extra time afforded in quarantine to pick up like cooking skills or something like. Did you get good at anything this offseason?
"Yeah, I was definitely being productive during my quarantined time. I had my business had on, going through different investments, reading financial literacy books so I could become more financially aware. I picked up Spanish for a little bit, but I dropped it. It was it was a little bit too much at the time. That cooking was definitely one, new recipes and all that good stuff (I'm) still making music. I'm building a community center, looking for another location for a community center in New Orleans. Yeah, it was a pretty productive quarantine."
What's the best dish that you learned how to make or at least perfected?
"I would say perfected, so I started using the air fryer. I'm a big wing guy like I made the best wings, five, six different sauces. But now I switched to air fry wings and I had to perfect them to get them to like they're fresh out the grease. I got it down to a science. They're elite."
You know how important playing football is to HBCU, what did you kind of think when they ended up postponing their season?
"I hated it. Hated to see that for sure. No, it is good for them to make a decision and not have to keep everybody waiting. They are aiming for their new date. But yeah, it definitely sucks. (Postponing) football and all that. The atmosphere is like none other with the fans and the culture, tradition. It's great. It's definitely going to be missed for the time being. It sucks that it won't be going on right now."
I was curious, you kind of touched on this a little bit, but considering the big goal you have and it is obviously a very realistic one, do you as players kind of have to hold each other accountable more than ever? And I say that in terms of I am sure at one point someone's going to be tempted to go to a bar, just do something that could possibly ruin it for everyone else, and yeah, I am sure the coaches can tell them not to do that, but at the end of the day it is probably like the honor system thing.
"That is a great question. I think that is a real situation. We might have to do some type of buddy system. We've got great men on this team that are really professional. Even if somebody was thinking about going out to have a drink, I would not considered them unprofessional. Just kind of getting caught up in their day to day, it can get repetitive, for sure. But yeah, I think we have to lean on each other, to make sure we're all trying to stay out of the way and do everything to be ready to play, to be available to play on every Sunday. So the sacrifices that have to be made will have to be made. And yeah, we will probably have to do a little bit of monitoring each other."
Have you either internally or externally had any thoughts or conversations about Drew Brees in terms of the career he's had and the clocks winding down a little bit, does that place an emphasis on winning another one, not just for the Saints, but also for your Hall of Fame quarterback?
"Drew's not someone you could put a clock on. Honestly, just look at his last season. He's impressive. He's a surgeon. You can't say this is his last year or next year is his last year, you can't. He's earned that right to control this clock. He's doing everything necessary to give his body, his mind, himself the best chance to play at a high level and you can't really ask for nothing more."
Have you considered how you will interact with your family throughout training camp or throughout the season?
"For training camp, I will be in the in the city alone and that's tough, but (my family and I will do) a lot of FaceTime and different calls, texts. My twins are old enough to text now so that is pretty cool. They send me some pretty funny stuff. So yeah, that is really it. I am sure a lot of guys situation will be the same. Their families won't be down until the season starts. It can be challenging, for sure. But I guess speaking on sacrifices is one of the necessary sacrifices to get us where we want to go and get us going into the season."
A month ago maybe I asked Joe Lombardi about you not turning the ball over very often and he sem-jokingly responded something along the lines of, well Drew (Brees) just decided to stop throwing interceptions. I'm just curious, from your perspective watching him, how much is his kind of obsession and whatever you want to call it just kind of responsible for him playing to 41 years old playing and playing at a high level and just kind of bending the game to his will?
"He's a Hall of Famer, all-timer and that's what's come to be expected from someone of that caliber. There's not many Drew Brees' that ever existed, not many played up to that level for that long in the history of the sport. We all know that (the) football is the most important part of the game. When you turn the football over you lose, you protect it and you give yourself a great chance to win and that's how we approach it. Sean (Payton) is huge on it, he's huge on the turnovers, giveaways, huge on it. He he's only looking for the personnel that take care of the ball. He'll let you know turnovers are more of a personnel thing. Some things happen, freak things happen, but turnovers are a personnel thing and takeaways are a personnel thing. There's guys that get their hands on the ball, the Marcus Williams of the world, they get their hands on the ball. We've got the right guys that protect it. AK (Alvin Kamara), for sure, he protects it better than almost any other running back I've seen. Him and Mark (Ingram). Definitely a huge emphasis for us is the takeaway and giveaway situation."
You mentioned that you've been doing pilates, it looks like you've been doing a lot of different stuff in town since you've been back, but how hard has it been to train this offseason with everything being as different as it was?
"Early on when the pandemic first hit, it was tough. Everything was shut down and I had a buddy that had his own gym so I was able to get in there a couple weeks after everything shut down which helped out a lot weight training wise. Then once things started to open back up, I got in with Duke Mayweather down in Dallas with several other o-linemen. It was kind of business as usual once we got back to Dallas and was able to train. So I was definitely fortunate for that situation to be able to get that work in."