NFL Europe kicks off this weekend

The NFL Europe league will kick off its 12th season Saturday. The Green Bay Packers have allocated 11 players to the league's European clubs this off-season.

Players who were on Green Bay's roster last season playing in NFL Europe include defensive backs Erwin Swiney and Derek Combs, and seventh-round draft pick linebacker Steve Josue.

Other players headed to the NFL-E are practice squad player Jason Jimenez, 2003 training camp invitees Tony Donald, Cullen Jenkins and Eric Powell, as well as free agent signees Kris Briggs, Corey Parchman, Wilson Thomas, and Walter Williams.

NFL Europe, which features a 10-game regular season from April 3 to June 6, provides younger players a chance to get on-field experience while giving NFL teams additional evaluation time.

Pro Bowl guard Marco Rivera, backup quarterbacks Doug Pederson and Craig Nall, and linebacker Paris Lenon are among the Packers to benefit from time in the NFL-E.

"The talent is closer to NFL than college," Packers Director of Pro Personnel Reggie McKenzie told "You're talking about guys who last year were on the 45- or 53-man roster and are going to be again next season.

"I think there's a lot better talent in those NFL-E games than there is in some of the fourth quarters of the NFL preseason games. So we'd rather watch players in NFL Europe, where they get a full season of learning a game plan and taking it to the field rather than just practicing here and getting a few fourth quarters in the preseason."

This season NFL teams allocated more than 200 players to NFL Europe. Coverage of the six-team league marks the first time live games will air on NFL Network, as 22 NFL Europe games will air on the network. FOX will broadcast four games throughout the NFL Europe season, as well as World Bowl XII live on Saturday, June 12.

NFL Europe Week 1 Schedule

Saturday, April 3, 2004

Amsterdam Admirals at Frankfurt Galaxy, 12:00 p.m.(CT), Direct TV/NFL Network

Sunday, April 4, 2004

Cologne Centurions at Rhein Fire, 9:00 a.m.(CT), NFL Network

Scottish Claymores at Berlin Thunder, 9:00 a.m. (CT), None

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