Please assign a menu to the primary menu location under menu

News

Dolphins’ left tackle Terron Armstead returns, offensive line play improves. It’s no coincidence – Boston Herald


Alex Highsmith, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ talented young outside linebacker, entered last week’s game against the Dolphins with 6.5 sacks, fourth in the NFL, and 26 tackles. He’s a beast, in a manner of speaking.

But after a night of lining up mostly against Dolphins left tackle Terron Armstead, Highsmith ended the game with no sacks and one tackle.

That’s no surprise.

Armstead, a three-time Pro Bowl selection and nine-year veteran, was a brick wall in pass protection and a road grader in run blocking. And if anyone had any questions about assignments or technique, Armstead was there to handle that, too.

The man does it all.

Armstead, who signed a five-year, $75 million contract as a free agent in March, might be the player the Dolphins could least afford to lose. The ripple effect of his play is that important. And if he’s not atop the list of players the Dolphins could least afford to lose, he’s certainly on the three-man roll call that also includes wide receiver Tyreek Hill and cornerback Xavien Howard.

Considering that, it’s probably no coincidence the Dolphins’ pass protection and run game had some of their best results of the season against Pittsburgh on a day when Armstead, rated 14th among offensive tackles by Pro Football Focus, returned from a one-game absence due to a toe injury.

“I feel like I did some things well,” Armstead said, giving himself way too little credit, and being reluctant to even go that far.

Armstead and coaches say one man doesn’t make that much of a difference by himself. They say it takes many components to produce the results they had against Pittsburgh, and they say the return of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa helped along with improved timing throughout the offense. And they’re right. But no one can deny Armstead’s presence and performance made everyone better.

The key for the Dolphins is finding a way to keep Armstead on the field.

Armstead has missed an average of 5.5 games per year due to injury for the past six years. He didn’t practice for about a month, from mid-September to mid-October, due to a toe injury. He usually doesn’t practice on Wednesdays because coach Mike McDaniel gives him a veteran rest day (linebacker Melvin Ingram also gets a weekly veteran rest day). The Dolphins are doing what they can to preserve Armstead for the long haul.

But it’s already been an interesting season for Armstead, who doubles as a hip-hop artist. He dropped a single about Miami in May, sustained a toe injury while helping the Dolphins to a 3-0 start, stayed overnight in New York to see a foot specialist after the Jets game, missed the Minnesota loss and then returned in top form for the Pittsburgh victory.

The Dolphins hope to see a repeat of the performance against Pittsburgh on this Sunday when Armstead lines up against Detroit rookie pass rusher Aidan Hutchinson, the talented No. 2 pick of the draft who has 4.5 sacks, which is tied for 19th in the league.

Left guard Liam Eichenberg, who lines up next to Armstead, had one of his best games of the season against Pittsburgh.

“For me, playing guard, it’s been a tough transition,” said Eichenberg, the second-year player who started out as a tackle. “Terron is there to help me. He’s a technician. He’s a guy who understands footwork and hand placement.”

It should be noted the offensive line’s good results against the Steelers weren’t solely because of Armstead. But he was a big factor.

“It’s a ton of things that goes into productive line play,” Armstead said, “and being able to do it over and over and over, that’s the hard part.”

It’s tough to explain what Armstead means to the Dolphins’ offensive line. But teammates tried, and the reviews are about what you’d expect for.

“I think when you have a guy who sets a standard, leads by example, and speaks up at the same time,” Eichenberg said, “it’s a rare thing.”

“That’s the leader of the group,” right tackle Brandon Shell said. “No matter what kind of job you have, it’s good to have your leader.”

“He’s a leader, he’s a friend,” right guard Robert Hunt said.

If someone is loafing, Armstead will crack the whip.

“He’s really good with the room and helping those guys along,” offensive line coach Matt Applebaum said.

If someone doesn’t understand a technique, Armstead is there to assist.

“If I’ve got a question, I don’t go to the coaches,” Shell said. “He’s that person.”

And as well as Armstead did in pass protection against Highsmith, Eichenberg said he was even better against the run. Running back Raheem Mostert gave Armstead respect for his role on the team.

“He’s a savvy vet,” Mostert said. “The guys on the front line are a little bit younger. You’ve got [center] Connor [Williams] who’s in the middle right there, and then you’ve got Terron, who’s the vet of the group.

“So, for him to come back and be able to do things he’s been able to do thus far in the offense, it just shows you the type of leadership that he has.”

And it helps tell the story of what the Dolphins lose when Armstead isn’t on the field.

()



Source link