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Brits flying the flag in training camps

With NFL training camps in full swing across the United States, thousands of players are fighting tooth and nail to win a roster spot with the league's 32 teams.

Among those battling away under the unforgiving summer sun are several Brits who are proudly flying the flag for the United Kingdom.

Here is a look at our British NFL players currently in training camps.

As he enters 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.

He may have travelled a long way from Inverness to the NFL, but 'The Scottish Hammer' is intent on sticking around in Cleveland for some time. The strong-legged Gillan will have to unseat Britton Colquitt to land a spot with the Browns but is working hard by pulling double duty as a punter and a holder. A former rugby player in Scotland, Gillan expects more to switch sports as he told me: "I hope to see more because there are plenty of rugby guys with unreal talent. There is plenty of talent in rugby but also in soccer as we have a lot of goalkeepers in Scotland who can kick it really far. They would be perfect kickoff guys."

This is a big summer for the former England rugby international, who spent two years on the Falcons' practice squad as part of the International Player Pathway programme before being signed to a contract extension in December. This is the year that Gray must make the 53-man roster and he made a strong start to the summer with some impressive catches during training camp. While he was held without a reception in the Hall of Fame Game, Gray will be hoping for a big preseason showing as he looks to make his mark and be on the roster in Atlanta come opening day.

After an impressive debut season with the Panthers in 2018, the former London Warriors defensive end is looking for an encore performance this season. Obada burst onto the NFL scene with a Defensive Player of the Week showing against the Cincinnati Bengals and ended the season with eight tackles, two sacks, two pass defenses and 'that' diving interception of Andy Dalton. The Panthers boast tremendous defensive line talent but Obada should be a key part of that rotation this year.

The former Kent Exiles, South London Renegades and London Warriors defensive back is entering his second season with the Browns and is soaking up his NFL experience. The International Player Pathway graduate enjoys facing off against the likes of Odell Beckham Jr in practice. Sankoh explained: "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." Sankoh is far from a spectator, though - he has been growing as a player due to his NFL experience and has enjoyed a good start to training camp, recording an interception in Saturday's practice session.

In his second training camp with the Steelers, former Worcester Warriors lock Scotland-Williamson has a genuine shot at making Pittsburgh's 53-man roster at tight end. While he looked raw as a rookie in 2018, the International Player Pathway product has worked hard to improve his game, telling me in the summer how he dived deep into the playbook to master the Pittsburgh offense. It has paid off with head coach Mike Tomlin stressing: "I have so much respect for the ground this young man has covered. That guy has earned the respect of every man out here. He has a legitimate shot to be a part of this thing." Of all the Brits, this preseason could be of the greatest importance to Scotland-Williamson. If he balls out, a roster spot beckons.

The former Wasps and England rugby star is experiencing his first NFL training camp as he sets about making his mark as a running back and kick returner with the Bills. As a member of the International Player Pathway programme, Wade has made quick progress in learning the sport of American football and took his first carry of this preseason - and his first-ever carry in the NFL - 65 yards for a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts. That dream start aside, Wade is enjoying his summer work, describing camp as "so much fun." Wade is learning from star veterans such as LeSean McCoy and Frank Gore and explained: "It's great to learn from those guys – I can pick their brains and they are very helpful. Training camp has definitely gone up a level from OTA's. It has been one hell of an experience so far." For someone who only put shoulder pads on for the first time this summer, Wade faces long odds to make the 53-man roster but, as he showed against the Colts, he has physical skills that are off the charts and that gives him a genuine shot.

Jay Ajayi - Free Agent Running Back - @JayTrain

The most famous Brit in the NFL is currently without a team but probably not for long. The Super Bowl champion running back has been medically cleared and given a full go after recovering from torn knee ligaments suffered in 2018. Inside sources confirm that Ajayi is garnering significant interest from several high-profile NFL teams. Now he is back to full health, look for Ajayi to be signed very soon and to be a factor throughout 2019.

In his first full season with the Patriots, our third-year British defensive back is turning heads in training camp as he attempts to break into one of the most experienced safety groups in the NFL. Melifonwu has been receiving multiple first-team reps at both safety positions and has impressed his coaches with the kind of versatility, physicality and intelligence so coveted in New England. If he enjoys a strong preseason, 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 Elumeunor - Guard - Baltimore Ravens - @themainshow

As he enters his third NFL season, Eluemunor has a shot at becoming a starter in Baltimore at the left guard position. Mind you, the former London Blitz product could need some strong preseason game showings after an up and down start to training camp. While he appears a lock to make the roster, Eluemunor has his sights set much higher and wants to add to the 17 games played and three starts made since joining the Ravens in 2017. All the physical tools are there and the starting job is up for grabs. 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 it.

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