Terron Armstead was confused.
He couldn’t get healthy. Summer hope only led to the fall of optimism, as the Saints left tackle endured a seemingly endless run of ailments the last few years. Armstead had no idea why it was happening. He traveled the country, then the world, seeing doctors and seeking opinions, only to have it happen all over again.
“I didn’t know why stuff kept happening,” Armstead said. “One injury was the result of others that would never heal. I dealt with that for two years. That kept happening.”
The one injury was his hip. It never got better. Armstead would play with it until it would eventually pop on him. Rest, rehab, return. The cycle never ended.
“It was a problem,” he said. “I was like getting a tear every week.”
Armstead feels good now after battling knee, chest and hip injuries the last few years. There is confidence in his words. The fact that he is now willing to discuss his injuries is notable in and of itself. Perhaps it is a sign that he believes the worst is now behind him.
At the same time, the left tackle knows no “secret potion is going to completely fix” his health, but he isn’t confused anymore. Armstead believes he has developed a formula for taking care of his body and preventing injuries. He singled out masseuse Arrid Hansell, who helped keep Marques Colston on the field for years, and the doctors he saw in Minnesota when asked who helped him reach a turning point.
Another big development is that he entered the offseason somewhat healthy. Instead of resting and rehabilitating, as he has the last few offseasons, he was able to focus on strengthening the weakened areas of his body. This year marked the first time since 2015 Armstead was available for Day 1 of training camp.
“That’s a great feeling alone to get those reps,” Armstead said. “I’ve been playing games without practice and practicing during games.”
One of the other things that helped the left tackle were the workouts he became involved in somewhat by chance this offseason. Armstead wasn’t overly familiar with Duke Manyweather when the offensive line guru reached out on Twitter, but Armstead accepted the invitation to work out with his group when he saw some of the other guys from his draft class at Manyweather’s facility.
The fundamentals and technique Manyweather focuses on were beneficial, but Armstead found functional movement specialist Patrick Brennan to be the most valuable resource.
“You got one big system,” Armstead explained. “You got a kink in the system it’s not going to function properly. Just finding those kinks, knocking them out, keeping everything running smooth.”
Getting his body back in balance is a significant part of Armstead’s road back to top shape. He picked up some bad habits while compensating for his injuries, and it’s something he and the Saints are working to fix.
“The biggest thing we’re working on right now in the pass game is hand usage and really working hard to get his left side on the defender,” offensive line coach Dan Roushar said. “He’s so quick, and he can get to the point, and he does a great job of adjusting to any movement. So, when that occurs, what we want to be able to do is just get a little more left side on him, and that’s a work in progress.
“I saw a couple of really good ones (this week), and there were a couple that he needs to work at. As he gets more consistency, and more repetition, and feels more comfortable with that, I think we’ll see a higher performance.”
A higher level of performance from a healthy Armstead would almost be like trading for an All-Pro. If the Saints get that for 16 games, this offensive line could become even stronger after a standout performance last year.