NFL TEAMS ADD INTERNATIONAL PLAYERS TO PRACTICE SQUAD
The players selected for the program, which is now in its fourth year, have all displayed outstanding potential and performance in NFL Europa, including German defensive end BEN ISHOLA. The NFL Europa National Defensive Player of the Year joins the Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts practice squad after helping the Hamburg Sea Devils to victory in World Bowl XV.
Five players – MARVIN ALLEN, CARL-JOHAN BJORK, SAMUEL GUTEKUNST, DANIEL WATTS and ULRICH WINKLER – participated in the program last year. One graduate of the initial class in 2004, Mexican guard ROLANDO CANTU, has already made his NFL debut, seeing action in the Arizona Cardinals' season-ending game against Indianapolis in 2005.
"The practice squad program was an excellent experience for me," Cantu says. "The exposure to the NFL environment and having an entire year with a team really pushes you to perform at a high level."
A closer look at the 11 international players heading to 2007
AFC East, AFC South and NFC North practice squads:
LB Carl-Johan Bjork/Green Bay Packers/Sweden. Ranked second on Amsterdam with 46 tackles and recorded one sack and two passes defensed.
OT Seppo Ewvaraye/Minnesota Vikings/Finland. Started seven games for Cologne and helped Offensive
DE Ben Ishola/Indianapolis Colts/Germany. Named NFL Europa National Defensive Player of the Year. Recorded 22 tackles, five sacks, one forced fumble, one pass defensed and three special teams tackles for World Bowl champion Hamburg.
WR Iiro Luoto/NY Jets/Finland. Caught five passes for 39 yards for Rhein.