Five Potential Breakout Oakland Raiders In 2015
By Austin Gayle
Dec 28, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos center Manny Ramirez (66) run blocks at Oakland Raiders outside linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong (57) in the second quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
2. Ray Ray Armstrong
Former University of Miami safety Ray Ray Armstrong first arrived in Oakland in early October 2014 after being released by the St. Louis Rams just after Week 5 of the regular season. Armstrong has experienced a lot of unfortunate events along his journey to the NFL, but he is now an Oakland Raider and he is apparently taking full advantage of the opportunity.
“Every time you come into a new season, new opportunities for guys and certainly with a new staff, there are opportunities for guys to reinvent themselves,” Head Coach Jack Del Rio said to Eddie Paskal of Raiders.com. “A guy like Ray-Ray [Armstrong] has really had a productive offseason. As a staff, we’re really excited about where he’s tracking.”
Although Armstrong primarily played from the safety position at the University of Miami, the 6’3”, 222-pound prospect has found a home as an athletic outside linebacker with excellent coverage skills.
Recently acquired linebackers coach Sal Sunseri expressed his opinion of Armstrong’s progress to Paskal in May 2014.
“He [Armstrong] is a very instinctive guy,” Sunseri said. “He really has a passion for the game. The kid has done an excellent job of going out there and competing every day. He puts a lot of pride on himself of doing it right, being consistent and working to be the best he can be.”
Armstrong is receiving a bulk of his reps with the first team at weak side outside linebacker as former University of Connecticut star and now third-year veteran Sio Moore works his back from offseason hip surgery.
Although Moore is expected to secure the starting role before the regular season begins, Armstrong is still in a position to receive a healthy amount of playing time due to the current personnel and, in large part, due to his ability to cover effectively from the linebacker position. Armstrong should see a bulk of his playing time in 3rd and long situations, but he could also have an opportunity to appear on earlier downs if Del Rio continues to push Mack down to the defensive end position.
In 2014 Armstrong played in 11 games for Oakland, and he finished the season with 18 combined tackles and one forced fumble during his time in a Raider uniform.
Due to Armstrong becoming a Raider nearly halfway through the 2014 season he did not experience a full offseason within in the system; therefore, the added practice looks to be directly correlating to his positive development.
Next: Potential Breakout Raiders: Rod Streater