NFL expands International Practice Squad Program

To enhance the development of elite football talent from around the world, NFL clubs have agreed to expand the league's International Practice Squad Program. The action was taken at the NFL Spring Meeting in Atlanta, Ga. on May 20.

The initiative, which enters its fifth year in 2008, will for the first time feature 16 players joining the practice squads of NFL teams.

The players will be selected and assigned to teams in the AFC North, AFC West, NFC South and NFC West in time for training camp. Participating players will be announced in mid-July.

Since the program's inception in 2004, 22 players have participated, including 11 last year and nine that have participated twice.

One player, guard Rolando Cantu of Mexico, graduated from the International Practice Squad Program to see action in the NFL the following season. Cantu spent 2004 on the Arizona Cardinals' practice squad before being elevated to the active roster by the club in 2005.

Cantu played in one game that year, the club's season finale against the Indianapolis Colts, and was on the field when kicker Neil Rackers connected on his record-setting 40th field goal of the season, the most in a season in NFL history.

Cantu is now retired from football and serves as the Cardinals' manager of international business ventures.

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