ASHBURN, Va. – When Anthony Armstrong speaks to reporters in the Washington Redskins' locker room, he stands with his back to a large burgundy pillar.
He doesn't hold court in front of his locker — the way other players do — because the stall next to his happens to belong to Donovan McNabb.
"I can't be in front of the locker without getting an HOA fine for violation of private property," Armstrong said. "When he signed, I told him 'Don't bring all the reporters in front of my locker.' And now I'm the one with all the reporters in front of his locker."
The first-year player now regularly draws a scrum of more than a dozen scribes and cameras, the sort of thing that happens when a player starts performing well and has great stories to tell.
Not only did Armstrong catch his first NFL touchdown pass in Sunday's overtime win over the Green Bay Packers, he also drew his first league fine for wearing his socks too high and had trouble with his zipper because of the team's switch from gold pants to white.
"The zipper doesn't stay up on the white pants for some reason," Armstrong said. "Don't know why. Think I may have gained too much weight. I don't want to change them if we keep on winning, so I'll just keep on worrying about broken zippers and whatnot."
The various wardrobe malfunctions aren't slowing Armstrong down. He's no longer a novelty item — the 27-year-old making his first NFL roster after working his way up from something called the Intense Football League — he's now a worrisome speedster for defenses, averaging 26.9 yards per catch in his bid to be the productive No. 2 receiver the Redskins have lacked for so long.
"Anthony Armstrong, it doesn't take you but about two snaps, you can see he can flat-out run," said Indianapolis coach Jim Caldwell said, whose Colts visit the Redskins this week. "He can run by you; he can run away from you."
That's what Armstrong did Sunday, streaking past a safety in single coverage to catch a 48-yard pass in the end zone for Washington's only touchdown against the Packers. Armstrong had to wait for the ball and leaped high to secure it. "I had a Red Bull, so it gave me a little wings" was how he described it after the game.
No wonder reporters love him.
Or McNabb, for that matter.
"When Anthony's in there, it's not like it's a drop-off too much of what we try to do," the quarterback said. "Anthony has the great speed to get downfield, and with the ball in his hands you just never know what can happen."
Armstrong might have been a long shot when he signed, but he's the type of player coach Mike Shanahan loves. When Shanahan was asked earlier this week to explain why he cut receiver Devin Thomas — a player whose work ethic and practice habits were subject for debate — the coach went off on a full-praise tangent about Armstrong.
"One of the great things about Armstrong is the guy will make plays, no matter what position you put him in," Shanahan said. "I knew Armstrong was going to a football player; it's too important to him. He loves to play. How can a guy 180 pounds make tackles (on special teams) all the time, beat people 5 yards down the field? He knows all three (receiver) positions. He plays every special teams position."
Armstrong had three catches against the Packers to bring his season's total to seven, second on the team among wideouts, but still miles behind Santana Moss' 29 and tight end Chris Cooley's 23.
But Armstrong is making every catch count. His seven receptions have gone for 57, 48, 23, 20, 16, 13 and 11 yards. Defenses are now having to pay attention to No. 13.
"I think they are going to have to respect and recognize and change how they want to play," Armstrong said. "They can't just double Cooley or double Moss all day."
Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league office are paying attention as well. Armstrong said he was fined for pulling his white socks too high against the Packers. He plans to appeal, saying he should have been given a warning instead.
"They're watching me — they're watching the wrong stuff," Armstrong said. "But, still, I want my money. So Mr. Goodell, please give me my money back."
Notes: Shanahan was asked about the switch to white pants. "I didn't even know what color we wore last week, to be honest with you," the coach said. "I'm not joking, either. If I start making decisions on what color jerseys we wear, they should shoot me." Uniform colors are one of the things GM Bruce Allen gets to decide. ... LT Trent Williams was cleared Wednesday of a reckless driving charge in a Fairfax County court. He had been cited for going 90 mph in a 55 mph zone in June. Williams wasn't expected to practice anyway because of an injured left knee. ... DL Albert Haynesworth will rejoin the team for practice Thursday. The funeral services for his half brother, who died last week in a motorcycle accident, were held Tuesday. ... LB Rocky McIntosh sustained a mild concussion Sunday. Shanahan hopes McIntosh can practice Thursday or Friday. ... RT Jammal Brown (left knee) was able to practice. ... S LaRon Landry was chosen as the NFC defensive player of the week. He created both Redskins turnovers in the win over Green Bay. ... The Redskins signed WR Ray Small to the practice squad. He was in training camp with Minnesota.