Ryquell Armstead’s return from a strenuous battle with COVID-19 has hit yet another roadblock.
Claimed off of waivers back in May, the New York Giants were hopeful the former fifth-round pick could help add depth behind starter Saquon Barkley and veteran Devontae Booker in the team’s backfield — that clearly never materialized, as the 24-year-old running back has since been released.
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Armstead Struggling to Return to Pre-COVID Form
Per New York Daily News’ Pat Leonard, “one source said the Giants didn’t believe he [Armstead] was physically prepared to compete at the start of training camp, coming off last year’s severe bout with COVID-19.”
According to ESPN, the former Jaguars draft pick was presumed by some within the organization as the heir apparent at running back after the abrupt release of Leonard Fournette in September of last year. Instead, Armstead missed the entirety of the 2020 NFL season due to extreme complications from the COVID-19 virus that left him hospitalized on multiple occasions and suffering from significant respiratory issues.
In Armstead’s absence, breakout undrafted free agent James Robinson starred, accounting for the second-most rushing yards (1,070) in the NFL amongst all first-year rushers. To further make Armstead expendable, the Jags went out and bulked up their backfield this offseason. The team used the second of their two first-round picks in the 2021 NFL Draft on the all-purpose maven Travis Etienne, while also adding a former 1,000-yard rusher in Carlos Hyde via free agency.
The Jaguars would go on to waive Armstead earlier this offseason, halting his tenure in Jacksonville after just 16 games (one start). Over that span, the New Jersey native compiled 108 rushing yards, 144 receiving yards and two total touchdowns.
Nate Ebner Opts Out of Olympics; Giants Return Looms
As USA Today’s Dan Benton noted, Armstead’s release trims the Giants’ 90-man roster down to 89, likely opening the door for a reunion with safety and special teams ace, Nate Ebner.
Giants have been vocal about their intention of re-signing Ebner following his U.S. Olympic Rugby training. Turns out they may get their wish quicker than previously expected.
Ebner recently took to Twitter to announce that he is withdrawing from competing for a spot on the U.S. Olympic Rugby team due to injury. Here’s the entirety of the three-time Super Bowl Champion’s statement:
It pains me to announce my withdrawal from competing for a spot at the Tokyo Olympics with the USA Men’s Sevens. After the 2020 NFL season, I had an injury that required off-season surgery. While my recovery is on track for the next football season, unfortunately the time tables did not align with trials for the Games.
Thank you to USA Rugby for welcoming me back into the squad like family. And thank you to the players working so hard to make the Olympic team and help the United States bring home a medal. I’d also like to thank the New York Giants for their support as I chase another dream. I look forward to the 2021 NFL season and will continue to work hard every day to be ready.
Finally, thank you to all those who supported my journey thus far. Your encouragement has been amazing and motivates me to keep pushing forward.
Ebner, 32, appeared in all 16 games a season ago for the Giants, logging a career-high 81% of the team’s special teams snaps.
“He’s a guy that’s very locked in and focused,” Judge noted of Ebner back in May. “He was a captain last year and is a great team leader. This team, what he’s helping build is very important for him and while I don’t speak for anyone else, I don’t mind echoing that for Nate because I know I can speak very directly and honestly. But look, he’s a very important part of this team and we look forward to getting him back.”
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