Armstead has catchy plan

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:00 AM ET

Jason Armstead's disappointment in not finishing the season outweighs the satisfaction he feels from anything he accomplished during it.

And so it is that in 2005, the speedy returner/receiver wants to be back with the Renegades, attempting to go the distance again.

A CFL rookie of the year candidate who will miss at least one and probably both of the team's final two games with a knee injury, the 25-year-old Armstead surely attracted at least some NFL interest with his big-play skills in an Ottawa jersey. In fact, it would be a surprise if he didn't get an invitation to work out for teams south of the border this winter.

But Armstead -- who is completing a one-year deal with the Renegades that has the club owning the option for a second year -- was yesterday adamant about returning to the nation's capital seven months from now.

"I am coming back, man," said Armstead, a former Mississippi State playmate of New York Giants QB Eli Manning. "The NFL ... there may be a chance, but I'm not thinking about that. I just want to get back to being healthy, and come back here in May."

The Renegades, of course, could seal the deal by getting Armstead's name on even a modest extension as soon as possible. At least that way, he'd have a guarantee in his hip pocket while he's back in Moss Point, Miss., at his off-season job as a landscaper.

"My mom and I converse a lot, and she doesn't want me looking at just the short term, where I have the NFL as a priority on my list," he said. "I have kids and wife to feed. I have been looking for some security and I feel (the Renegades) care about me.

"The NFL is all about politics and I'm not about those games. The Renegades show me they're grateful ... and I'm a loyal person. I'm okay right here in Canada. If the NFL wants me, they know where to find me, but they knew where to find me coming out of college, and coming out of junior college, and I'm still right here."

While Armstead says "don't count me out" of being in the Renegades lineup for next weekend's home finale against the Hamilton Ticats, coach Joe Paopao thinks it unlikely. Armstead has already been scratched from tomorrow's roster, as David Azzi will start in his place and former Giant Sean Bennett will be added as a backup.

Armstead exits with 41 catches for 608 yards after spending most of the early part of the season primarily as a return specialist. And at that, he has developed into one of the league's best.

He has 37 kickoff returns for 700 yards, which puts him among the league's top five. He is also the second-leading punt returner with 64 for 821 yards, including a a 91-yarder for a touchdown.

Armstead also has the league's second longest missed field-goal return -- a 115-yarder -- to his credit.

HATES INJURIES

What bothers him even more than the fact he didn't score on that romp is that the goal he set for himself of playing all 18 games will not be realized.

"It's frustrating because I really wanted to last the whole season," said the 5-foot-10, 158-pounder. "I hate injuries, I dislike being in the trainer's room. I made it through 151/2 games, and it's really disappointing I didn't get to play all 18. As soon as I got injured, everything else (from this season) in my mind went away."


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