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Anthony Armstrong has shown the Redskins he has good speed and good hands.
Doug Kapustin/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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BY RICH CAMPBELL
ASHBURN--Like most players' paths to the NFL, Anthony Armstrong's began in the parking lot of The Jack Shack.
Wait, that's not right. Guys who play on second-tier minor league teams that practice outside a minor league hockey arena don't make it this far.
So how the heck was it that Armstrong walked off the Redskins Park practice field yesterday afternoon with a spot on the Washington Redskins' final roster almost in his grasp?
"That Robert Frost quote about the road less traveled? My road was off on the side that you can't even see," he said. "I literally was cutting through these woods and hacking down trees trying to get to this spot here."
Armstrong, 27, is the Redskins' feel-good story of the summer. With impressive speed, sharp route-running and good hands, he has separated himself from an otherwise pedestrian group of wide receivers in the team's most important position battle.
"I came in here and took the job and said, 'Who is that guy?'" new head coach Mike Shanahan said. "He has showed a lot of speed."
Armstrong would be your typical training camp longshot cliche if his story were a bit more believable. But really, it isn't.
PLAYING ON PARKING LOT
After graduating from West Texas A&M, a Division II school in the small town of Canyon, Texas, in 2004, Armstrong had to put his football career on hold to rehabilitate what he called a "yucky" right wrist injury he suffered as a senior. A fracture and torn ligaments required a cast.
Shortly after he got the cast removed, he tried out for the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free agent. He failed their physical because of his wrist, though, and spent 2005 away from the game.
"When I wasn't playing, I was grumpy and angry, probably damn near depressed," he said.
Armstrong called the Falcons for another shot after he got healthy, but they said they needed new game film of him to consider it. Great, Armstrong figured. He just needed game tape as quickly as he could get it.
One of Armstrong's college teammates was playing at the time for the Odessa Roughnecks in the Intense Football League--which no longer exists under that name--and helped him latch on to that team.
REDSKINS AT JETSWHEN: Tomorrow, 7 p.m. WHERE: New Meadowlands Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J. TV: Comcast SportsNet, Channel 4 RADIO: WGRQ-FM 95.9