Coaches, GMs split on future of read option

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Coaches, GMs split on future of read option

Following the success of running quarterbacks such as Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III this past season, the read option was a hot topic Thursday at the NFL Combine.

As expected, there were some varied views among head coaches and general managers.

“The more you put the QB in harm’s way, the more harm will come to him,” said first-year Arizona head coach Bruce Arians, who labeled himself a “traditionalist.”

But San Francisco general manager Trent Baalke, who watched Kaepernick run the 49ers into the Super Bowl, obviously had a different take.

“I think it stresses the defense,” Baalke said. “The more that person can do, the stress it puts on. But Peyton Manning puts a lot of stress on defenses, too. So you’ve got to meet the skill sets of your quarterback.”

“I’m not going to try to guess what 31 other teams are doing,” Baalke added. “But he certainly puts a little bit more pressure on the defense.”

Don’t look for the Bengals to switch to the read option any time soon with Andy Dalton as the franchise quarterback. But backup Bruce Gradkowski is a free agent, and the team may be content to let him sign elsewhere and go after a rookie in the later rounds of the draft April 25-27.

The Bengals also have Zac Robinson, who is signed through 2014, on their practice squad.

Canadian club: New Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman kicked off the Combine interview sessions Thursday, and it didn’t take long for the topic to turn to the Canadian Football League, where he coached the Montreal Alouettes the last five seasons.

“It’s a different game but it’s a terribly exciting game,” Trestman said of the CFL. “It’s been around 100 years up there; they must be doing something right. From my standpoint I totally enjoyed every minute of it.”

Trestman isn’t the first guy to make the leap from the CFL to the NFL. Marv Levy, Bud Grant and former Bengals coach Forrest Gregg all migrated with success.

But there have not been many players who have been as successful with the move. Warren Moon went from the CFL to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the Miami Dolphins recently hit the jackpot with the signing of linebacker Cameron Wake, a two-time Pro Bowler.

Within the past few weeks, the New England Patriots have added a pair of CFL vets, signing defensive lineman Armond Armstead and defensive end/linebacker Jason Vega.

“There’s some players up there that have shown 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.”

MAC attack: Miami University quarterback Zac Dysert is one of seven players from the Mid-American Conference invited to the NFL Combine. Last year there were four.

Joining Dysert in Indianapolis this weekend will be Ball State punter Scott Kovanda, Bowling Green defensive lineman Chris Jones, Central Michigan offensive lineman Eric Fisher, Kent State offensive linemen Brian Winters, Ohio offensive lineman Eric Herman and Massachusetts offensive lineman Stephane Milhim.

“It’s really cool to see the MAC starting to grow,” Herman said. “Everyone’s starting to compete really well, and it’s starting to show with the number of people coming here.

‘With three teams being ranked and coming from where we were before to where we are now, it’s awesome. It’s grown exponentially.”

The NFL Network’s Mike Mayock has Fisher listed as the second-best prospect at tackle behind Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel, who many are projecting as the No. 1 overall pick. Mayock ranks Winters fifth among guards.

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