Oakland Raiders defensive end Trace Armstrong returns to a place he called home for six years when his current team travels to South Florida to play the Miami Dolphins.
Don’t count on Armstrong, however, to get enormously hung up on facing his former team. Armstrong played for Miami from 1995-2000 and is fifth on the Dolphins all-time sack list with 56.5 followed by their current star at defensive end, Jason Taylor (54.0). Taylor has 14 sacks in 2002.
“It’s as big of a game as it gets because there’s a lot on the line for both us and them,” Armstrong said. “I talk to those guys all the time but right now you just want to win.”
Both teams are in a similar situation – in a crowded division race, controlling their own fate but also one late-season slump away from not making the playoffs at all. At 9-4, Oakland has the AFC’s best record and leads San Diego (8-5) by one game along with Denver and Kansas City, both 7-6, by two games. Oakland closes the season hosting both of those clubs. The Dolphins (8-5) are in a first place deadlock with New England, whom they face in the season finale, followed by the New York Jets (7-6) and Buffalo (6-7).
Armstrong signed with the Raiders as a free agent before the 2001 regular season but ruptured his Achilles tendon in Week 3, oddly enough one week after Oakland lost to Miami 18-15 in the closing seconds.
The 37-year old Armstrong has returned to action after the Raiders took a cautious approach with him during the offseason and in mini-camps. Armstrong has played in all 13 games without any serious glitches. He has started six of those games, tallying 14 tackles and one sack.
Vince D’Adamo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org