Washington Redskins wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell said that he isn’t worried about second-year pro Anthony Armstrong and that he knows Armstrong will continue to improve against press coverage.
Armstrong came under scrutiny this week after Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan remarked that he needed to do a better job at beating bump coverage to regain his starting job and a steady flow of snaps in the offense, or otherwise start coaching.
Armstrong on Wednesday said he wasn’t ready to take up a new profession just yet, and McCardell said he shouldn’t have to worry about having to do so.
“He’s come out to work on it, and he’s a great kid. He loves to work, and if you don’t work, you won’t get better,” said McCardell, who played 17 seasons in the NFL – the first and last with Washington, but most of them with Jacksonville. “That’s the first thing, and he has the work ethic to get better and I know he’ll get better.”
Armstrong had a strong first season in the NFL last year when he started 11 games and had 44 catches for 871 yards and three touchdowns, which ranked second on the team. But his production and playing time have fluctuated, and he hasn’t had the impact that he had last season, recording only five catches for 47 yards and a touchdown through six games.
McCardell said although Armstrong still has growing to do, the drop-off in production isn’t all the wide receiver’s fault.
“First and foremost, he’s got to get more opportunities,” McCardell said. “That’s part of this game. Guys step up each week. This week it could be him, next week it could be him. Each week, he’s got to prove it to us and do the things we know he can do. He’s fine. He’s feeling like he needs to show folks he’s still Anthony, which I know he is.”
McCardell also said teams are paying more attention to Armstrong after his performances last year.
“Sometimes people start to study you more when you’re a guy,” McCardell said. “When you’re that guy, people study you and makes you have to study more and makes you have to be a lot sharper on your releases.”
When practice ended on Wednesday, Armstrong asked McCardell to remain on the field with him and the two worked one-on-one on ways to beat the press coverage.
When asked about Armstrong’s positive response to his remarks from earlier in the week, Shanahan said: “I was kind of just joking about that. That’s my standard line as far as receivers. Any receiver that can’t beat bump coverage, they can’t play in the National Football League. And I told him that I was kind of teasing, but at the same time kind of serious. Because that’s just the nature of this business, you’ve got to beat bump, and he knows that. And he’s out there. Not only does he do a great job on special teams, but he’s conscientious and he does everything he can to make the big play and I’m looking for him to have a heck of a career here, and I’m happy with the guy, the way he goes about his business.”