PLAYER: Derick Armstrong (wide receiver, No. 83)
OFF-FIELD ACTIVITY: Hangin' at home on the ranch.
Derick Armstrong is a lonely cowpoke these days. But you would be too if you had to leave your entire barnyard back home in Texas.
Seven horses, several cows, a couple of dogs and a whole lotta chickens -- to be exact -- comprise the gang of critters the off-season rancher had to tear himself away from to ride off to Winnipeg for another Blue Bombers season this past May.
"It was hard," Armstrong says in his soft Southern accent.
The worst part was having to leave behind Jake, his beloved stud (read: stallion kept for breeding). And you know what they say -- when the farmer's away, the horses will play.
"My brother was telling me that Jake was acting up a little bit because I wasn't there," Armstrong laughs.
The 28-year-old wide receiver was practically born on a horse, having ridden throughout his childhood years on his family's pig and chicken farm in Jasper, Texas. Now he saddles up in his own pasture, on a ranch near Houston.
A typical day on the farm has Armstrong up for breakfast at 6:30 a.m. and out to work till the cows come home. His duties include feeding and grooming the animals and -- ew! -- cleaning out their stalls. Even though most Bomber practices don't even commence until high noon, Armstrong finds the early to bed, early to rise rural lifestyle he's become so fond of over the years completely stress-free.
"It's very relaxing," he says. "The scenery is beautiful. Everything is real."
Of course, it doesn't hurt that Armstrong's barn is equipped with a TV, radio and plenty of lounging space for him to hit the hay between chores -- and perhaps even when he should be mindin' his duties. "I spend a lot of time in there," he adds.
Horseplay aside, a wrangler's job is never done. So while Armstrong is rackin' up yards during the summer months, his brothers tend to his land back home.
"Believe me, they call," he says, adding they're mostly dialing him up "to buy feed and hay."
With the CFL schedule in full force, Armstrong won't be gittin' along with his little dogies until the Bombers' bye week in August -- when he's hoping Jake can help him relieve some mid-season anxiety.
"When I'm depressed I just go ride -- it kinda eases me a little bit."