Armond Armstead heads to the CFL

Former USC defensive lineman Armond Armstead has taken his talents north of the border.

Armstead -- who was forced to sit out his final season for the Trojans due to medical issues -- was not selected in the NFL draft in April. Rather than wait for an opportunity as a free agent when NFL camps open in July, Armstead has accepted an offer from the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL.

The Canadian league opens play later this month, and Armstead already has taken part in early practices. If he can prove himself on the field with the Argos -– both in terms of performance and health -– it will go a long way toward earning a potential shot at the NFL.

Armstead knows the status of his health is a major reason why he was not drafted by the NFL and why he must take this extra step of playing in the CFL. The complete details of what happened with his health are not clear, he was examined by USC doctors in the spring of 2011 and was not cleared to return to the field. Armstead says his health is fine but clearly there are concerns among team executives, because otherwise there would be a much stronger demand for a 6-foot-5, 300 pound lineman with his skills.

“Teams were scared because of the history,” Armstead said in a press conference this week. “I had an episode last year, and I was hospitalized. They ran a bunch of tests and found out I didn’t have any heart condition or blood condition. That’s basically it. I came out and tried to go through the draft, but teams didn’t want to take a chance on me. I didn’t want to wait until July for an NFL camp tryout, so I decided on the sure shot. All I wanted was the opportunity, and the Argos gave me one.”

The Canadian league season ends in November, so it’s possible Armstead could end up on an NFL roster for the conclusion of the NFL season. It’s all about showing that he can get back to playing football, and by going to the CFL he will get a chance to do exactly that.