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NEW YORK (AP) — Four NFL teams will carry an additional overseas player on their practice squads during the 2017 season. Three players are from Britain and one from Germany.
The announcement by the NFL on Thursday is part of a new International Player Pathway program.
The international players are: tight end Alex Gray with Atlanta, defensive end Efe Obada with Carolina, defensive end Alex Jenkins with New Orleans and linebacker Eric Nzeocha with Tampa Bay.
The players have been training alongside NFL players and draft hopefuls in Florida the past three months.
Gray is a former rugby player; Jenkins and Nzeocha were recent college players. Obada was originally signed by Dallas in 2015. Each team will get an exemption for an 11th practice player, who is ineligible to be activated during the season.
LAKE FOREST — Mike Glennon didn’t want to mince words in his first media availability since the Bears drafted Mitch Trubisky. His message came across as clear and often as a campaign slogan.
“I can only say it so many times, this year has been fully communicated that it’s my year,” he said following the Bears OTA practice. “I’m not going to worry about the future. As long as I play well, it will all work out.”
Glennon made some reference to 2017 being his year 12 times, to be exact, in his 10-minute session with the media.
He said that he was surprised by the drafting of Trubisky, but a phone call from Ryan Pace 10 minutes after the pick and again the following morning confirmed to Glennon he was still the starter.
“They brought me here to be the quarterback this year and nothing has changed,” he said. “So in my mind, I have to go out and play well, and I know that, and that’s basically the bottom line.”
Unfortunately for Glennon, the dozen times he reiterated that this is his year won’t end the questions, at least not until the season begins. And after that, any slip-up and the focus will shift back to the dynamic between Glennon and the No. 2 pick.
Glennon had started 18 games from 2013-14 before the Buccaneers drafted Jameis Winston No. 1 overall in 2015, moving Glennon to a backup role, so he is familiar with sharing a quarterbacks room with a top pick. But this time, it’s his job to lose.
“I think you can draw similarities [to Tampa], but it’s different,” he said. “I’m here, this is my year, and the meetings are geared around me. Am I going to help Mitch as much as I can? Definitely. I’m going to be a great teammate. But my job is to win football games for the Chicago Bears. And that’s where my head’s at.”
John Fox said that Glennon has “grabbed the bull by the horns” as far as being the leader of the offense.
“Really from Day One when we signed him, that was the approach,” Fox said. “That was the approach we took as an organization and the same with him as far as getting to know his teammates, maybe not in a practice element but as far as just communication. He’s that kind of guy, had the same reputation while he was in Tampa and same thing even at N.C. State as a college athlete.”
Glennon did notch a small victory over Trubisky during the practice, which was the Bears’ second OTA but first one open to the media. In a Dowell Loggains-run drill/competition that involved throwing at garbage cans, Glennon tied with Connor Shaw for the win.
The Bears' former director of college scouting, Greg Gabriel has over 30 years of experience in NFL scouting. You can follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe
The 2017 NFL Draft was completed almost two weeks ago. With the draft behind us, what is up next for the rookies who were either drafted or signed as undrafted free agents?
Many clubs had a rookie minicamp last weekend, while the rest will have their rookie camp this weekend. The players each team drafted and signed as free agents attend these camps as well as numerous other players who are attending on a tryout basis. A club can have as many as 90 players under contract during the offseason so for many clubs, they could possibly sign five or six players who were competing on a tryout basis.
These minicamps are a rookie's first taste of life in the NFL. They get their first NFL playbook and quickly find out that the NFL game is vastly differnt from the college game. Minicamp practices are mostly abbreviated affairs where really only basic things are installed. The coaching staff is really just trying to get a feel for where each rookie is as far as conditioning and understanding of NFL schemes. For the tryout players, it's just that....a tryout. With these players, the coaches want to see if there are a few players who have what it takes to compete in OTAs and training camp.
Following this weekend's rookie minicamps, the rookies can begin taking part in the offseason programs if school and exams have ended. If the school they attended is still in session and if the player hasn’t already graduated, he cannot participate in any off the offseason sessions until that is complete. Most schools that use a semester system are now finished, schools on a quarter system are sometimes in session until mid-June. The players from these schools cannot take part in the offseason program or OTA’s.
As we saw at many of the different rookie camps, several rookies are not in the condition needed to make it through the various practices. When they begin taking part in the offseason programs, they will get back into football shape fairly quickly.
The offseason programs include weight-room activities, classroom learning and on-field instruction. These offseason sessions usually last four days a week (Monday through Thursday) with Friday being a makeup day for a daily session missed.
In addition to weight room and on-field instruction, each rookie goes through an orientation program set up and run by the club’s player development staff. The program can include lectures on finance, finding a place to live and how to act in public as a member of an NFL team. The program can also set up “field trips” to get the players acclimated to the area in which they will soon live.
At the end of June, all drafted players are required to attend the rookie symposium. This event last four or five says and deals with some of the same things that the orientation deals with, including how to be and act like a professional. Many current and former players will speak at the symposium and relate to the rookies the experiences they went through as rookies. Some have of sad stories to tell, as the rookie experience isn’t always a pleasant one.
Beginning in late May or early June, clubs will begin to have OTAs (organized team activities). A team can have as many as 12 of these sessions and they are much like minicamp practices. A practice can last about 90 minutes to almost two hours in length. During the practices, there are individual periods where each positon group goes through drills designed to teach certain techniques. There is also installation periods where the offensive and defensive plays are installed and team periods when the offense goes against the defense. These are highly intense periods but there are supposed to be non-contact. Players wear helmets but no shoulder pads, so the chance of injury is strong if there was any contact.
It is during these practices that rookies are catching up to the veterans so to speak in learning the offensive and defensive schemes. The rookies who are able to learn and retain the best are the ones that get on the field the earliest. There is one thing certain about NFL coaches. They play the players they trust and they trust the players who don’t make mental mistakes. If a rookie doesn’t know or understand the system, he better stay after practice and try and learn it. Failure to learn and understand the scheme is a sure way to getting cut. Rare physical talent can buy a player some time, but NFL coaches are not known for their patience. A player's job is to know and understand what is going on.
Rookies and veterans usually have about four weeks “off” between the end of the offseason program and the beginning of training camp. Rest assured, they aren’t really off. Though they aren’t using the clubs facilities to train, they better find a way to stay in football condition as once camp opens. The coaches don’t wait for players not in top condition.
IOWA CITY — Before summer work begins, Iowa football players get a chance to have a little fun with the game.