Ryquell Armstead reveals post-COVID-19 myocarditis diagnosis ahead of return to field with Jacksonville Jaguars

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Running back Ryquell Armstead‘s journey back is almost finished. That will come when he steps onto the field for the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

It has been two years since Armstead last played in an NFL game, and he’s had to overcome a lot, notably a battle with COVID-19 and myocarditis, which cost him the entire 2020 season, to finally reach this point. The former Temple standout has treasured the journey.

“It was a blessing in disguise,” Armstead said Thursday. “I got to sit back and enjoy my family, enjoy my kids, just do what they want to do. Be a dad. Just not take anything for granted. I cherish every moment now, and when it was time for me to step up out of my comfort zone and get back to where I need to be, I took that step. I was outside every day working out at 6 in the morning. Whether or not I knew I was going to get picked up or not, I was out there working by myself.

“I had a goal. I had a vision. I had an endgame. And this was the endgame. I’m here. I’m back on a 53 [man] roster. I’m back active, and like I said I’m blessed. My mental is so strong that none of this fazed me. I just keep going.”

Armstead, whom the Jaguars selected in the fifth round in 2019, ran for 108 yards as a rookie and was set to have a bigger role in 2020, but that was derailed by COVID. He contracted the virus, had two stints on the reserve/COVID-19 list, was hospitalized once and eventually was diagnosed with myocarditis, which is an inflammation of the heart muscle. That’s a known complication of the virus, and it kept Armstead from working out and attempting a comeback for eight months.

He recovered and was getting back in shape but the Jaguars, under new coach Urban Meyer and general manager Trent Baalke, cut him this May. He spent time with the New York Giants and New Orleans Saints before the Green Bay Packers signed him to their practice squad on Nov. 3.

The Jaguars signed him on Wednesday, guaranteeing him three game checks, to replace Carlos Hyde, who went on injured reserve because of a concussion. Armstead is likely to get work behind starter James Robinson when the Jaguars play the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

Armstead is from New Jersey and played at Millville High School, so that makes his return to the field for the first time since the 2019 season finale even more special.

“I don’t really think about all that [I’ve been through],” Armstead said. “It’s the past. When that happened, it was time to work. It took me probably two, three months to get back to where I live, where I am today and how I’m feeling. I’m just moving forward. I don’t dwell on the past; they’re all memories. I treat life like chess. That was a pawn. That was just a piece of my story. God’s got a greater story at the end.”

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