INDIANAPOLIS — When it comes to looking for under-the-radar talent, the Patriots went north of the border this offseason, landing defensive linemen Armond Armstead (of the Toronto Argonauts) and Jason Vega (of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers).
Armstead is a 6-foot-5, 300-pounder who was a three-year star for the Trojans in college. After a junior year spent at defensive end ‘ where he had 43 tackles, six of which were for a loss (three sacks) ‘ he was set to open his senior year at defensive tackle, but suffered a heart attack before his senior season and was never cleared to practice. As a result, he went undrafted, and ended up with Toronto of the Canadian Football League , where he led the 44 tackles and six sacks to help the Argonauts to a Grey Cup championship.
Vega, who stands 6-foot-4, 255 pounds, is a native of Brockton who played his college ball at Northeastern. The 25-year-old spent the past two seasons playing for the Blue Bombers, recording 66 tackles and 12 sacks. At Northeastern, Vega battled through injury issues (including a broken elbow) to record 137 tackles and 14 sacks in 41 games. He was not selected in the 2010 NFL draft . (For more on their acquisition, check out this story  from last month.)
New Bears coach Marc Trestman — who was hired by Chicago after spending the last five seasons in the CFL with the Montreal Alouettes — talked Thursday morning at the scouting combine about the transition for players from the Canadian game to the NFL.
‘There’s some players up there that have shown that they can play in the NFL,” Trestman said. “That’s been proven over time. There haven’t been many, but the guys who’ve shown up down here have done a pretty good job of fitting in. The players up there are very similar to the guys down here in terms of their character — they want to master their craft and be the best they can be. Some of them have had the opportunity south of the border and done well.
‘These guys love football up there. They have dreams of wanting to do it down here. Those that can will give it a try; those that can’t have experienced a lot of exciting football up there.’
In the end, Trestman said that football is football.
‘There are multiple differences, obviously,” he added. “But just generally, the ‘box’ is still the ‘box,’ the blitzes you seen in the CFL are similar to the blitzes you see south of the border. The field is wider, it’s intelligently created, it’s a three-down league. The defensive line is a yard off the ball, the field is a mile long and a mile wide. And we’re playing with 12 and multiple motions.”