Eight International Players Added to Rosters for 2018 Season
Style Magazine Newswire | 5/1/2018, 10:08 a.m.
Eight teams will carry an additional overseas player on their practice squads in 2018 as part of an expansion of the International Player Pathway program, the NFL announced today.
The program, instituted in 2017, aims to provide international athletes the opportunity to compete at the NFL level, improve their skills, and ultimately earn a spot on an NFL roster.
Alex Gray (Atlanta Falcons), Alex Jenkins (New Orleans Saints), Eric Nzeocha (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), and Efe Obada (Carolina Panthers), participants in 2017, will return to their NFC South teams for the upcoming season.
An additional four teams – the AFC North – will carry an overseas player on their roster until the end of the 2018 training camp. At that time, the players would be eligible for an international player practice squad exemption.
The Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers will each be given an exemption for an eleventh practice squad member – ineligible to be activated during the season – with two of the players selected coming from the UK and two from Germany. The AFC North was chosen to receive the international players in a random draw.
The players include Moritz Böhringer (Cincinnati Bengals), who was originally drafted in the sixth round by the Minnesota Vikings in 2016, German Football League player Christopher Ezeala (Baltimore Ravens), former British American Football League player Tigie Sankoh (Cleveland Browns) and former English professional rugby player Christian Scotland-Williamson (Pittsburgh Steelers).
For the past three months, the players have been training alongside NFL players and draft hopefuls in Florida, under the supervision of former NFLUK head of football Aden Durde, who was hired as the Atlanta Falcons defensive quality control coach after this season’s program, along with IMG Academy coaches including running back coach Earnest Byner, offensive line coach Paul Dunn, defensive back coach Donnie Henderson and wide receiver coach Larry Kirksey.
The new players taking part in the 2018 International Player Pathway Program:
MORITZ BÖHRINGER, Tight End/Wide Receiver (Germany), Age: 24 – Cincinnati Bengals
Selected in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings, becoming the first player to be drafted directly from European football. Had previously been combining his university studies with playing for the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns in the German Football League. Spent the 2016 season on the Vikings practice squad.
CHRISTOPHER EZEALA, Fullback (Germany), Age: 22 – Baltimore Ravens
Played as a fullback and linebacker in the German Football League for the Ingolstadt Dukes, having begun playing the sport for the Munich Rangers and Allgäu Comets. Has focused on the fullback position, saying: “My coaches told me that while there are many linebackers like me in the NFL, there is no fullback that is so athletic and fast, so they are trying to create a new type of player with me.”
TIGIE SANKOH, Defensive Back (UK), Age: 21 – Cleveland Browns
Played amateur football throughout his teenage years and attended the American Football Academy at Filton College in Bristol, England. Went on to represent the London Warriors in the British American Football League.