Friday, May 3, 2013

Belichick says CFL'ers Armstead, Vega have leg up


The New England Patriots announced their busload of rookie free agent signings Friday, adding 19 to the roster in preparation for offseason workouts.

And while many of those 19 have a legitimate shot at being on the roster come September, it's two rookies from north of the border that coach Bill Belichick thinks have the upper hand at the moment.

Belichick spoke with the media Friday after the official announcement free-agent signings and was asked whether he thought former CFL stars Armond Armstead and Jason Vega — who were signed back in January — had a leg up on the competition due to their previous professional experience. (photo: Neon Tommy, Flickr)

Belichick acknowledged the two were at an advantage at the moment, but for a much more obvious reason.

"I think the fact that they’ve been here for a couple weeks probably puts them ahead," Belichick said. "Just that they’ve been around our offseason program, been doing drills with the coaches this week. The previous two weeks have been really conditioning work but I think that probably gives them a little bit of an edge.

"I don’t know how much they did or didn’t get out of Canada, you’d have to ask them that."

According to Armstead, his time as a defensive lineman in the CFL was beneficial. Armstead compiled 43 tackles and six sacks in his year with the Toronto Argonauts, who went on to win the Grey Cup.  

“I feel like I learned a lot, how to be a pro and how to approach your work and everything. I feel like it’s going to help me out a lot.”

New England carried 14 total players on the front line last year, and the team currently has 17  (including Armstead and Vega) heading into OTAs in two weeks. Armstead has been touted as the front runner of the two for a spot on the team, though both have the pass rushing abilities to make an impact.

Vega, who was tight-lipped with reporters on Friday, wouldn't talk much about his time in Winnipeg. The 25-year-old did note, however, that having a former CFL'er with him through the offseason process has been helpful.

"We're in the meetings and we're learning together, getting all that good information that coach is passing on, so we're both trying to look for our spots on this team and see what happens."

Vega had 66 tackles and 12 sacks in his two years with the Blue Bombers.

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