Mourning loss of daughter, Jermon Bushrod steps up for Saints

CINCINNATI -- Jermon Bushrod said he has been leaning on his New Orleans Saints family to help get through a difficult time after his newborn daughter died last month, one week after she was born.

On Sunday, they leaned on him. And the veteran offensive lineman delivered when he replaced starting left tackle Terron Armstead during a 51-14 rout of the Cincinnati Bengals.

"It's been tough. It was tough for me this morning. Today would have been one month, she would have been one month old today," Bushrod told reporters after the game. "So it was emotional for me this morning. I talked to my wife and mother about it. But at the end of the day, I wanted to be there for the guys.

"I'm going to continue leaning on the guys. I was really down after everything happened. They helped me out. This team, this organization, I don't know if I would be in this position if I was with another organization. This organization has done everything possible to make sure that we're comfortable, me and my family. They're doing right by me, and I'm very appreciative."

Bushrod said he was not just talking about his teammates, but their wives and girlfriends, as well.

"It's good to be around the guys -- not good, it's great to be around the guys. It gives you an escape, a little bit. But when I get home, she's always on my mind, my wife is always on my mind. It's a battle," Bushrod said. "I think God puts you in position to handle certain things. ... This is something that is devastating, but you have a couple different ways you can go. I felt the love and support."

Bushrod, 34, re-signed with the Saints in free agency this year to be a backup tackle/guard after he had talked about considering retirement at the end of last season. He began his career with the Saints from 2007 to 2012, winning a Super Bowl and making two Pro Bowls as a left tackle before spending the past five years with the Chicago Bears as a starting left tackle and the Miami Dolphins as a starting right guard.

"Dude's a warrior, man," Saints running back Alvin Kamara said. "It's hard to put yourself in those shoes. I'm not gonna say we understand. It's tough to be able to go through that and still come to work every day and still prepare at the level he's preparing at and play at the level he's playing at. So kudos to him. I mean he's a remarkable dude."

"Bushrod is a monster, man," running back Mark Ingram added. "He's a Pro Bowl player. I played with him early on in my career, I know what he's capable of doing. Just the role he's in with our great offensive line, he's embraced it, and he's been working his butt off. Man, he just came out and played a great game. Losing Terron, that could hurt badly. But for him to jump in right away and us not miss a beat, that just says a lot about his character, his work ethic and how great of a player he is.

"This is bigger than football, his situation. And we're here for him. That's our brother, forever. His family is our family. His son was in there playing hoops in the locker room."

Quarterback Drew Brees said Bushrod "did a great job" and said, "I'm used to seeing Bush on that left side, you know. He was a mainstay here for a long time."

Bushrod has appeared in six games this season, mostly as a jumbo tight end in heavy run packages. But Sunday he entered the game during the second quarter when Armstead suffered a shoulder injury.

The severity of Armstead's injury is not yet known. Losing him for any significant stretch would be a blow for the Saints because Armstead has had an outstanding season for the NFL's highest-scoring offense (36.7 points per game). But Bushrod proved himself to be a good fallback option.

"I'm hoping for the best news. He's been having a tremendous year, and it's been special to watch," Bushrod said of Armstead. "Obviously the last time I was here I had a different role, but I've been blessed and fortunate to play going into my 12th year here. So this was the position I signed up for. But ... when your number's called, I just wanted to be ready, and I just wanted to do my part.

"Getting back in there felt good. It felt good to win and help out and do my part."