Terron Armstead aching, yet on brink of durability milepost vital to Dolphins' success

MIAMI GARDENS — Pretty much everything hurts.

That’s an oversimplified version of the state of Dolphins left tackle Terron Armstead. Officially, the Dolphins list him as having having toe, pectoral and knee injuries. He’s the only player listed with that many concerns.

“If I could allocate a percentage to body parts, I would spread it out a little more,” Armstead joked Monday.

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Dolphins left tackle Terron Armstead blocks Trey Hendrickson of the Bengals.
Dolphins left tackle Terron Armstead blocks Trey Hendrickson of the Bengals.

Maybe laughter helps soothe the pain. The truth is, Armstead isn’t doing fine despite all those injuries — he’s doing more than fine.

If things go according to plan these next few weeks, Armstead will finish the season having played 15 games, matching a career high he managed only once in his nine previous NFL seasons. It’s that much more impressive considering he’s doing it despite a season-long toe injury serious enough that he has given up hope of getting relief from it before possibly the offseason.

Armstead’s value to the team cannot be overstated. When he went down with a strained pectoral against Houston, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa also went down — sacked so many times the Dolphins pulled him from the game. Armstead is the leader on the line, critical to pass protection and a running attack coming off a 188-yard performance in Buffalo.

Still, some of his best blocking might be in blocking out pain. During the week, much of his time is devoted to treatment of injuries rather than practice.

“It’s been a challenge for sure,” Armstead said. “Don’t get me wrong. Playing without feeling great or doing things different. Changing technique in a week is tough prep. Unfortunately, I’ve had to do these things throughout my career, so I’ve got some experience finding different ways to win, using different techniques, being real good with my eyes and stuff pre-snap. Just finding a different way.”

Armstead said he’s not taking special pride in matching a career high in games played. To him, it’s just doing his job.

“I just want to be there for my teammates,” he said. “That’s it. Be there for my teammates, be there for my coaches. … I don’t really get into counting the games or counting the reps. I’m trying to play every game, every snap. That’s the goal. And this year, I didn’t play every game. But anytime I can be out there for my team, I’m in there, no questions.”

He didn’t play every game, but you won’t find a teammate who feels let down by Armstead.

“He’s the captain for those guys up there, and we all respect him,” Tagovailoa said earlier this month. “So just seeing how much this means to him, football and what he’s doing to try to get back out there to play with us, it’s pretty remarkable. I think this is his 10th year or 11th year, and he’s up there in the trenches. That’s hard, so for him to have gone through all the challenges that he’s gone through and continuing to go through, you have to be strong minded.”

Armstead knows the Dolphins need him as much as ever. There are only three games left in the regular season, including Sunday vs. visiting Green Bay.

“The Rock will be rocking for sure,” he said. “It’ll be Christmas. A beautiful, beautiful football Sunday.”

The Dolphins are two wins away from clinching a playoff berth, but they’ve lost three in a row. The pressure’s on, although it’s nothing Armstead wasn’t used to playing on perennial contender New Orleans.

“Treat every game the same will apply more late in the season,” he said. “I think you have to completely lock in, sacrifice. Use all resources. Empty the tank every one of these games towards the end of the season, and then you get into the playoffs. You don’t want to just get into the playoffs and try to flip a switch, especially without the experience.”

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Aching all over? Dolphins grateful Terron Armstead can block out pain