Terron Armstead's return to practice for the Miami Dolphins and his participation in team drills was a most welcome sight for fans at the Baptist Health Training Complex, but it's the big picture that remains most important for the veteran tackle and the team.
When it comes to Armstead, the term "load management" will come into play in training camp in the preseason with the hope it doesn't have to be mentioned again once the regular season starts.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a cautious approach because once you’re in there, you have to go," Armstead said. "You have to go. I think it’s being smart and not just jumping right in, especially coming back from some offseason work and getting healthy. If I was just coming in fully, fully healthy, I think my rep count would be different. It was more so of a ramp-up with the different studies and science and health, technology. This has been proven to be most effective.”
THE MISSING PIECE ON ARMSTEAD'S RESUME
Armstead joined the Dolphins as an unrestricted free agent in the offseason with quite the resume, including three Pro Bowls and every game a start over the past eight seasons.
What's missing, however, is one complete season, one season where he didn't have to sit out at least one game because of an injury.
"This is my job," Armstead said. "This is what I do for a living. This is how I feed my family. This is how I make my life. Ideally, all I want to do is play. All I want to do is play. Unfortunately, we don’t always get to do what we want to do. My injuries have been a result of a lot of different things, more so compounding, coming back too early and all those good things. (Head Coach) Mike (McDaniel) and (Head Athletic Trainer) Kyle (Johnston) and the rest of those guys have been conscious and cognizant of everything that I’ve dealt with previously, but I’m trying to get on that field every day, every play. This is what I do. I love it.
“Listen, there’s a 100 percent injury rate in the NFL. It’s just a guarantee. Now the severity, the magnitude of the injury – you try to prehab, do all this preventative work that I’m definitely tapped into – the nutrition, the mobility, all those good things. Do everything that you possibly can do, then it’s control what you can control.”
Armstead's ability to play as many games as possible obviously is huge for the Dolphins, who are counting not only on his ability but his leadership and mentoring as well.
MANAGING ARMSTEAD'S SUMMER WORK LOAD
The veteran, who was limited to eight games last season because of a knee injury that required offseason surgery, doesn't figure to get a lot of preseason action this summer, though he doesn't want to pin down exactly how many 11-on-11 snaps he needs to get ready for the start of the regular season.
"It kind of varies," he said. "You never want to put a count on it (and say), ‘I need this amount of reps.’ It’s a feel. It’s a feel. So you’re getting that rust knocked off, technique, getting your eyes, hands and feet where you want them to be, that can take however long. Ideally, I want to be able to feel like I’m ready, like I’m game-ready and season-ready as early as possible. But I’m not there yet.”
The good news is that there don't appear to have been any setbacks so far and things are moving in the right direction.
His participation in practice Friday was just another step that way.
“It felt great, man," Armstead said. "It’s fun. It’s a fun game. Getting back out, I’m feeling well enough to get out back out and participate, being with my guys, competing against the defense, it was fun.”