Armstrong hopes to put injuries behind him

Trace Armstrong's last two seasons have ended on injured reserve.

 

Defensive end Trace Armstrong has made up for lost time since signing a free agent contract with the Oakland Raiders two years ago -- but not for the reason most people crave.

            Armstrong enters his 15th NFL season in 2003 but would rather forget the last two campaigns because they have ended with him landing on injured reserve. Armstrong has missed 14 games the last two seasons.

When the Raiders signed Armstrong as a free agent from Miami, he was coming off a season in which he led the AFC with 16.5 sacks. There was no reason to raise a red flag on the injury front either because he missed a combined nine contests in his first 12 seasons.

Armstrong ruptured his Achilles tendon in a 38-14 win over Seattle in Game 3, landing on injured reserve. Armstrong was enjoying a solid 2002 campaign before a groin injury in a 28-16 AFC West clinching over Denver in Week 16 ended his season. Armstrong tallied four sacks last year.

            "It's part of the game," said Armstrong, who has 103 career sacks. "It's tough when you get them in back-to-back years but I've just tried to work to overcome it. I'm excited about getting out there again this year. It'll be two years out of the Achilles which is a time everyone seems to think it starts to come back."

            The Raiders did not release Armstrong in a salary cap move as some people expected. Oakland entered the offseason an estimated $48 million dollars over the salary cap but retained Armstrong despite his injury problems of the last two seasons. If healthy, Armstrong can help the Raiders pass rush.

            "Trace has been back the whole offseason," Oakland defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan said. "We limited him a little bit earlier but he's worked himself right back into it."

 

Vince D'Adamo can be reached via e-mail at vdad7@yahoo.com


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