Terron Armstead is no stranger to missing time, and the Saints have stayed afloat without him before. They seem well-equipped to do so again in 2018.
When an offense is clicking on all cylinders the way the New Orleans Saints’ unit is in 2018, the last thing they want is an injury to one of their bruisers up front.
But that’s just the news that New Orleans received heading into Week 11. Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday morning that Armstead would miss 3-4 weeks with a pectoral injury that caused him to leave last week’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
As Saints fans know all too well, as great as Armstead is – he’s been Pro Football Focus’s No. 1 rated tackle in 2018 – he’s been injury prone in his time in New Orleans. After getting inconsistent playing time as a rookie in 2013, he missed two games in 2014, three in 2015, nine in 2016, and six in 2017.
But, if any team in the NFL can handle a blow like that, it’s the Saints, who have allowed the fewest sacks in the league. The unit has been among the league’s most cohesive, especially excelling over the past month and allowing New Orleans’ running game to take off.
When Armstead exited Sunday’s win over Cincinnati, seasoned veteran Jermon Bushrod took over and didn’t miss a beat. Though he’s 34 years old, Bushrod has experience all over the offensive line and is more than serviceable. He’s a two-time Pro Bowler who was the starting left tackle on the Saints’ 2009 championship team.
The Saints also have the option of shifting left guard Andrus Peat over to Armstead’s vacated left tackle position if Bushrod struggles. Peat spent time protecting Drew Brees’ blind side last year when Armstead missed the first six games of the season, and he played well. In those six games without Armstead, the Saints allowed a total of just five sacks — best in the league in that span.
Last year, the Saints used Senio Kelemete as a do-it-all, back-up utility man, as he started eight games between the tackle and guard positions. Bushrod seems poised to fill the same versatile role. With a dominant core group of Peat, Max Unger, Larry Warford and Ryan Ramcyzk only building more and more chemistry each week, the Saints are equipped to shoulder the load of an injured star tackle.