NEW YORK ( Associated Press) – The NFL will feature 13 athletes from nine countries competing for a spot in the league’s International Player Pathway program.
The league announced Tuesday the athletes who will begin training in the United States in February before getting a chance to work for Team Scouts in March, in hopes of signing as a free agent. Players may be selected or assigned to a practice squad in one of the NFL’s eight divisions for the 2022 season.
“The International Player Pathway Program is an important part of our ongoing efforts to help ensure that the world’s best athletes are playing in the NFL – regardless of their country of origin,” said Chief Operating Officer of the NFL’s International Damani Leach said.
The program began in 2017 and gives athletes from other countries the chance to earn a spot on the NFL roster.
Fullback Jacob Johnson, who started six of his 17 games with the New England Patriots, and offensive lineman Jordan Malata have started in 24 of the 29 he played with the Philadelphia Eagles. This season saw him snap the 1,000th of his career, having made his way to the NFL through this program.
Buffalo Bills linebacker Efe Obada came through the program and has played 52 games in four seasons. Tight end Samis Reyes, who moved to the US at age 13, became the first player born in Chile to play in the NFL with Washington this season and started his first game in Week 11.
The NFL held a combination last October in England and Mexico involving 56 players from 16 countries.
At the end of training camp, each player can remain in his team’s practice squad with an international exemption by giving his team an extra player. Players may also be signed to an active roster during the regular season under certain standards.
The players in the 2022 group are Lionel Misangumukini of Austria, Leandro Santos da Fonseca of Brazil; Souleiman Karamoko of France; Germany’s Marcel Dabo; Ralphs Rusins of Latvia, Hector Zepeda Hernandez of Mexico; Kehinde Hassan Oginni, Chigbo Roy Mbeteka and Haggai Chisom Ndubusi of Nigeria; Thomas Odukoya of the Netherlands; and Addedeo Odelay, Ayo Oyeola and Bamidel Olaseni of the United Kingdom.
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