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If Terron Armstead is out, what’s the plan for the Saints?

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The fifth-year left tackle has flashed brilliance in an injury riddled career to date.

New Orleans Saints v New York Giants Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

To date, Saints left tackle Terron Armstead’s career has been inconsistent to say the best. When he’s been on the field he’s been brilliant but injuries have limited those opportunities of late.

At the 2013 NFL Combine, he set the current record for a 40 time run by an offensive lineman at 4.71 seconds. Not bad for a tight end, much less an athlete in a 6-foot-5, 306-pound frame.

New Orleans took the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff product in the 3rd round of that draft.

Since being named the team’s starter near the end of the 2013 season, Armstead has yet to play a full 16-game slate. He played through nagging injuries in 2016 before being placed on IR in December.

Following a 2015 in which he was named the third best left tackle in the NFL by Pro Football Focus, expectations for Armstead have been off the charts. But the injuries seem to keep popping up.

Nothing is known at this point as to whether or not this could be an issue going forward or if the injury is serious.

Armstead may be completely fine and ready for training camp and the regular season, but this latest issue and the past bring up some important questions; namely, what’s the plan if Armstead’s not healthy for the 2017 season?

Khalif Barnes is currently on the roster. The 13th year veteran is 35, and he’s with the Saints specifically for emergency situations to provide insurance and depth. He could potentially fit the bill but he’s not the steady presence you want protecting Drew Brees.

There’s Bryce Harris on his second tour of duty with the Saints. An undrafted free agent in 2012, Harris was on the Falcons practice squad as a rookie and has bounced around between the Saints, Falcons, Dolphins and Jaguars in his short career. More of a camp body than actual competition for the starting left tackle job, Harris can’t be seen as a serious option.

Andrus Peat is another fall back as he’s filled in at left tackle for the Saints before but his play at left guard is something the team wants to solidify in the 2017 Season following a solid showing there in 2016.

And then there’s rookie Ryan Ramczyk. The Saints, to the chagrin of many a fan wanting an edge rusher, took the tackle out of Wisconsin with the 32nd pick of the 2017 NFL Draft.

Expected to challenge incumbent Zach Strief for the starting right tackle position this season if not next, Ramczyk cut his teeth at left tackle for the Badgers in college. Considered one of, if not the best, offensive linemen to come out in 2017 the Saints would surely not want to throw him into the fray so early in his career.

But with 2017 being seen by many as a “must win” season for Sean Payton and company, they’ll certainly have to do whatever is necessary to keep Drew Brees upright during the regular season for there to be any hopes for post-season play.

Additionally, if there are issues with Armstead’s health, there are still free agent and trade options available to shore up the line for the regular season. The free agents still available though are still available for a reason.

Having Terron Armstead healthy and starting is the goal. The Saints could certainly use a break from the injury bug. But if the situation dictates, the Saints do have other options. Likely, Ramczyk would be the answer.

Roy Anderson is a resident of Pensacola, Florida and a lifelong Who Dat. Spring Hill College graduate, cat herder and former denizen of the North Shore. Previously the host of the Locked on Saints podcast, he’ll be returning with the Bleeding Black and Gold Podcast on July 1. I was there when Turley tried to decapitate that guy.