By Anthony Armstrong
I’m gonna keep it 100 with y’all. When I got to the League in 2008, I was just a fast guy. I felt that I had some decent routes, good but not great hands, but my biggest asset was my speed. I ran five 4.2 40’s in the summer of 2006. Before then I had only ran in the low 4.3s in a pair of Asics on this all-purpose flooring at West Texas A&M. In my three years of arena ball, everyone would say, “Man, I wanna see you on the big field!”
Moving up the ranks from Texas high school football, to Division II, the Intense Football League, the Arena League and eventually the NFL, I noticed that there is talent on all levels. What separates you is the technique and consistency. Not just catching the ball every time, but doing your job every single time. We all know that one cat that was crazy talented but would only execute 30% of the time.
When I got to Miami, I was living in a hotel with absolutely nothing to do. I mean not a damn thing. Sure, there was South Beach but I didn’t have South Beach money, so I stayed around the facility and the Davie area.
When we sat in meetings, there was not tape of me since I was on the practice squad. All my tape was on the defensive film. I could watch Cam and Ted do their thing, but no Armstrong at all. I decided to stay at the facility and watch MY film in a form of self-study. I wanted to know what I was doing and how it affected the DBs I went up against. I’d win a play here and there, but I wanted to improve! I clicked around on the computer and found tape of all the teams in the league, plus you could search for a specific player. I hit the jackpot. I would start to study the greats at my position too!
Marvin Harrison was my favorite wideout of all-time especially after his 143-reception season in 2002. I liked Randy Moss and TO, but those guys are 6’3 and 200+, Marvin was built like me. I would take copious notes on his technique in and out of breaks, and everything at the line of scrimmage. I was in heaven.
Since those Colts teams had some ballers out wide, I would study Reggie Wayne. One thing about him was how smooth he was. Very deceptive with his speed. If you slept on him, he would go right by you. Day after day, I would choose another receiver to study and break down.
Ochocinco stood out for his footwork. Crazy fast feet. Santana Moss had this quick burst at the top of his routes that would twist corners up then he would go the complete opposite direction. Steve Smith was a stick of dynamite. He played bigger than his size and wasn’t afraid of anybody. Greg Jennings and Chris Chambers had some sauce in their game that was special. It was some backyard ball style that would create so much separation.
Having the ability to be in that position to study those great players against top competition, I would grab one or two things and throw them in the next practice. Rinse and repeat. I kick myself for not continuing it later on in my career because when you have a blueprint of success in front of you, you’re dumb if you don’t take a look.
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