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International players Jordan Mailata, Obada earn spots

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The NFL's International Player Pathway program has its first two members of a final roster.

Tackle and former rugby player Jordan Mailata has made the Philadelphia Eagles' final 53-man roster, NFL Network's Peter Schrager reported.

Mailata was a seventh-round pick of the Eagles in the 2018 draft, despite never playing football prior to the draft.

Mailata was a rugby star who simply outgrew the sport, being used only in specific situations to advance the ball and bowl over opponents. His highlight reel is a treat to watch, but he needed a new athletic pursuit, which led him to transition full-time to football training with the hopes of landing with an NFL team.

After a month and a half of work with the Eagles, he's defied the odds and drawn high praise in the process:

Thanks to the popularity of his play, it became unlikely the Eagles would be able to sneak Mailata through the waiver wire and onto their practice squad. He instead finds himself on the opening day roster -- an achievement in itself.

Mailata joined another international player in the group of those surviving cut-down day: Carolina Panthers defensive end Efe Obada.

Obada was informed Saturday that he made the 53-man team, according to the team's official site.

Obada's accomplishment is unprecedented on two fronts: He's the program's first practice squad addition to ascend to the final 53, and his inclusion means Carolina is keeping 10 defensive linemen on its roster for the first time under coach Ron Rivera. Obada is one of six defensive ends on the roster, which will not include 2017 third-round pick Daeshon Hall.

This isn't Obada's first attempt with an NFL team. He signed as a free agent with the Cowboys in 2015 after a football background of just five games with an amateur team in London but was cut at the end of the preseason, later joining their practice squad. He also spent time with the Chiefs and Falcons, but never made a roster until now.

Eight players were added to NFL teams via an additional roster spot allowed for the program in June.

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