FOXBOROUGH — On Monday night, the Patriots shed a little light on the health status of defensive lineman Armond Armstead, who is currently on the non-football illness list.
The team released a statement, which said, “Armond Armstead had surgery to treat an infection. Armond is in good condition and is expected to make a full recovery. A timetable has not been set for his return.”
Coach Bill Belichick was asked Sunday if Armstead’s absence is related to his previous health problems — he suffered a heart attack while a player at Southern California which he has blamed on injections of the pain medication Toradol that he did not ask for. Belichick said he believed it to be a different situation and “if we have anything, we’ll talk about it, but not at this time.”
Once projected as a first- to second-round pick, Armstead’s heart attack in March 2011 changed his status with NFL teams. When he was not allowed to return to the field at USC, he entered the 2012 draft but was not selected or signed as a free agent.
Instead, he played last fall in the CFL, for Toronto, and was named a league All-Star and was one of the top defensive players on an Argonauts team that won the Grey Cup. He signed a three-year deal with the Patriots in January.
Armstead is suing the USC team physician, University Park Health Center, and an unnamed pharmaceutical company for unspecified damages, claiming the improperly administered Toradol injections caused the heart attack and affected his NFL career.
Bruschi, Santos in
The staircase overlooking the plaza outside Gillette Stadium was packed with Patriots fans Monday night, all there to congratulate folk hero Tedy Bruschi and voice of the franchise Gil Santos for their induction into the franchise’s Hall of Fame.
Fans overwhelmingly voted in Bruschi as this year’s player inductee in his first year of eligibility; owner Robert Kraft announced late last year that Santos, who served as the radio play-by-play man for 36 years, would be inducted as a contributor.
A third-round pick out of Arizona in 1996, the NCAA’s all-time sack leader as an undersized defensive end, the Patriots told Bruschi when he was drafted that they intended to make him a middle linebacker.
Bruschi recalled that his late father Tony long had told him he should play linebacker, but Bruschi always brushed off the suggestion, particularly since he’d had so much success as a pass-rusher in college.
But after capping one of the best careers in New England history, as a linebacker, Bruschi said Monday night what he believes he should have said before his father died in 2001: “Dad, you were right.”
Though the current Patriots already had begun practicing inside Gillette, Belichick was the surprise final speaker for the ceremony. It is another example of the great respect and affection Belichick has for Bruschi — he never has taken part in the induction ceremony before.
When Bruschi retired, Belichick called him the “perfect player.”
“When I look at the word ‘football player’ in the dictionary, you just see Tedy Bruschi’s picture there,” Belichick said. “That’s the best way I could put it.
“He had so much passion, didn’t matter whether we were doing sprints or lifting weights, preseason games, championship games. He had that same energy, that same team spirit.”
Former teammates Matt Light, Ty Law, Joe Andruzzi, and Troy Brown took part in the event, and several other former Patriots were in the crowd.
The Patriots announced their offseason award winners Monday.
Tom Brady, Jerod Mayo, Rob Ninkovich, Matthew Slater, Nate Solder, Vince Wilfork, Ras-I Dowling, Dane Fletcher, relative newcomer Aqib Talib, and newcomer Danny Amendola are this year’s honorees.
As their prize, each receives a front-row spot in the players’ parking lot, personalized with his name. Given by the strength and conditioning staff, the awards take into account attendance and progress made in the weight room during the offseason workout program and organized team activities.
Brady used to be a regular recipient of the offseason award, but this is the first time in several years he has been recognized. Fletcher’s award is notable since he was rehabbing from a torn ACL suffered last August.
Amendola, signed in March, clearly became a regular around Gillette quickly, and other defensive backs have talked about Talib’s influence in the weight room.
Amendola incorporated a new feature to his training regimen this offseason: MMA fighting.
“I do it after I do my football training,” he said. “It’s kind of like an extra thing.”
It began in Los Angeles, where Amendola worked out at the same gym as Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture.
“I saw them doing it and I was kind of hesitant at first,” Amendola said.
But the 5-foot-11-inch, 195-pound wide receiver decided to give it a try.
Amendola described the workout as a “high energy” cardiovascular exercise.
“It definitely used a lot of strength and speed at the same time,” Amendola said. “I liked it. I’m going to do it for a long time.”
The workouts consisted of drills and grappling.
“We didn’t actually punch each other,” Amendola said.
At times, he thought about taking it to the next level.
“I got that little guy inside me that wants to fight at all times,” he said, with a smile.
Fanning the flames
The Patriots practiced under the lights at Gillette Monday night, their first in-stadium practice of the year.
An announced 20,543 were in attendance for the annual event for season ticket-holders and residents of Foxborough and Walpole.
Free agent acquisition Leon Washington called it one of the largest crowds watching practice he’s ever been a part of.
“We could feel the energy,” the veteran said. “We couldn’t help but be a little amped up here to come out for practice.”
Any experiences close to this for the former Jets running back?
“When I played on that team south of here, you know, down Route 95, we had some crowds there,” Washington said, grinning. “But it’s nothing like here.”