Four teams get to carry extra international practice squaders

AP

The four teams in the NFC South get to carry an extra practice-squader this year, as the league continues to promote its product internationally.

The catch is the 11th player is picked for them, as part of the NFL’s international player pathway program. The players can’t be activated to the regular roster, but get to hang around for the year.

The Falcons get English rugby player/tight end Alex Gray, the Panthers get defensive end Efe Obada, the Saints get defensive end Alex Jenkins while the Buccaneers drew German linebacker Eric Nzeocha.

The players have been training in Florida alongside some other hopefuls, under the tutelage of former Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora and Aden Durde, the head of football development for NFLUK (who was in camp with the Panthers in 2005 as a linebacker).

“This is going to change people’s lives,” Umenyiora said in a release. “They have a great opportunity. They are going to be seen not only by their new teams but by everyone who might imagine they can be NFL players. They will inspire people around the globe; people who never thought they had a chance to make it to the NFL. Now they see they have a viable pathway. These guys have worked very hard for this chance and I am confident they will make a great contribution to their teams while improving their skills and understanding of the game.”

The only downside to the program is the time spent by coaches with players who aren’t yet NFL caliber (and some coaches will gripe about wasting time because coaches gripe). But if that’s the biggest thing coaches gripe about, the league is willing to bear it for the larger goal of growing the game beyond our borders.

13 responses to “Four teams get to carry extra international practice squaders

  1. This is awesome. I hope this develops into an international practice squad spot for all 32 teams. Once the field is level, they can then do away with the prohibition of elevating these players to the active roster, if any should prove worthy.

    I wonder how these players get identified for this program.

    Ultimately I wish they’d just bring back NFL Europe. Didn’t it have roster spots set aside for European players?

  2. When tackled by the German linebacker, he’s been known to say, “Ve haf vays of making you talk!”

  3. I don’t see the point. No matter how well these players progress, they will not be allowed to “graduate” to the active squad. Besides that, there are already players who come from other countries on various teams so I don’t see how adding 4 more players who will not play does anything to promote inclusion of other countries/players.

  4. Smells like a charity case…

    Here’s a crazy idea: how about you give the spots to the best players available, regardless of where they are from?

    Oh, and let the teams pick their own players!

  5. Yay, extra camp bodies that can’t be cut. I’m sure teams and coaches are loving this.

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