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Brits ready for 2019 NFL season

With summer training camps and the NFL preseason coming to an end, the 32 teams across the United States have been trimming their rosters ahead of the new campaign's big kickoff this week.

And the final moves have revealed that several Brits will be playing key roles for their respective NFL teams when the league's 100th season gets under way.

Here is a look at our Brits who have made 53-man rosters and practice squads ahead of 2019.

Jack Crawford - Defensive Line - Atlanta Falcons

Now in his eighth NFL season, Crawford has quietly become our most successful American football export to the United States. Quick off the snap and stout against the run, the Londoner enjoyed a career year in 2018 as he registered 35 tackles, six sacks, one interception and one forced fumble. Crawford will remain a key performer on the Falcons defensive line in 2019 and could improve on those numbers set just a year ago.

Jamie Gillan - Punter - Cleveland Browns

When we caught up with 'The Scottish Hammer' during Cleveland's training camp, Gillan told us: "Life is going great right now." It got even better in the second half of the preseason as the strong-legged native of Inverness ripped off a 74-yard kick and turned heads with his willingness to make tackles, giving a very definite nod to his rugby-playing background in Scotland. Gillan won Cleveland's punting job by beating out 10-year Pro Bowl veteran Britton Colquitt, which was no mean feat. He is likely to punt, kick off and hold in his first season with the Browns.

Efe Obada - Defensive End - Carolina Panthers

For the second year in a row, former London Warriors defensive end Efe Obada has been named to Carolina's 53-man roster. Obada burst onto the NFL scene with a Defensive Player of the Week showing against the Cincinnati Bengals and ended last season with eight tackles, two sacks, two pass defenses and 'that' diving interception of Andy Dalton. The Panthers boast tremendous defensive line talent and we now know that Obada will be a key part of that rotation this year and will play in London when Carolina take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday October 13.

Obi Melifonwu - Safety - New England Patriots

In his first full season with the Patriots, our third-year British defensive back turned heads in training camp while breaking into one of the most experienced safety groups in the NFL. Melifonwu received multiple first-team reps at both safety positions and impressed coaches with the kind of versatility, physicality and intelligence so coveted in New England. Melifonwu should be a contributor in New England from opening weekend, particularly given his ability to play special teams. Melifonwu said: "My mindset each day is to come out here and do my job and make sure I know my assignment." See, he already sounds like the pefect Patriot!

Jermaine Eluemunor - Guard - New England Patriots

As he enters his third NFL season, Eluemunor has moved to the reigning Super Bowl champion Patriots after a late-summer trade away from the Baltimore Ravens. The former London Blitz product now gets to learn from arguably the best offensive line coach in the NFL in Dante Scarnecchia. Now in New England, expect Eluemunor to quickly add to the 17 games played and three starts made since joining the Ravens in 2017. All the physical tools are there and now the young man who got into American football by watching the 2007 London game between the Miami Dolphins and New York Giants on television now needs to go out and take advantage of a great situation.

Tigie Sankoh - Safety - Cleveland Browns

The former Kent Exiles, South London Renegades and London Warriors defensive back will spend a second season on the Cleveland Browns' practice squad as part of the International Player Pathway programme. Sankoh showed a real nose for the football during the preseason as he made several tackles and big plays for an impressive Browns defense. Sankoh will now spend this season honing his skills by covering the likes of Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry in practice. He says: "It's a great thing to go up against the greatest talent in the world every day. I get to see all the great catches he makes and I see that in person. It's really cool."

Christian Scotland-Williamson - Tight End - Pittsburgh Steelers

After a second impressive training camp with the Steelers, the former Worcester Warriors lock has been signed to Pittsburgh's practice squad at tight end. The International Player Pathway product has obviously worked hard to improve his game as Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said: "I have so much respect for the ground this young man has covered. That guy has earned the respect of every man out here." If he enjoys further growth in the coming months, Scotland-Williamson has a great shot at the 53-man roster in 2020.

Christian Wade - Running Back - Buffalo Bills

The former Wasps and England rugby star gave the NFL preseason absolutely everything he had as he scored on a 65-yard run with his very first touch in the league. A week later, he added a big catch and run against the Carolina Panthers and made the Bills think long and hard about offering him a spot on the 53-man roster, despite his limited experience. Wade has quickly become a fan favourite in Buffalo and he will now spend the 2019 season on the Bills' practice squad as part of the International Player Pathway programme. Given his explosive debut this summer, I';m making the not-so-bold prediction that Wade is on Buffalo';s roster and becoming a week in, week out key performer next season.

Jay Ajayi - Running Back - Free Agent

Our British Super Bowl-winning running back is still assessing his options as he works his back from a knee injury that cut short his 2018 campaign. With proven pedigree - Jay produced three 200-yard rushing days during the 2016 season in Miami - it is unlikely that the former number one rusher is on the open market for too much longer.

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