Louis Rees-Zammit’s rugby-to-NFL dream edges closer but huge obstacles remain

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Louis Rees-Zammit has worked out for NFL teams in recent weeks.Photograph: Zuma Press Inc/Alamy

If ever there was a time, if ever there was a place, for Louis Rees-Zammit to chase his NFL dream, this is it. The former Welsh rugby union star is reportedly nearing a deal to join the Kansas City Chiefs, the back-to-back Super Bowl champions.

Rees-Zammit is likely to join the team for their annual training camp, a kind of extended trial as he learns the rigors of the NFL. He will join a 90-man training camp roster that will eventually be whittled down to 53, with 16 further places up for grabs on the practice squad, in effect a reserve team. This season also marks the first time that teams will have an extra spot available on the practice squad carved out for players who have come through the league’s International Player Pathway program. Since the IPP was introduced, 37 international players have signed with teams and 18 remain on rosters.

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In other words, there is still a long way to go for Rees-Zammit even though this is a promising start. The transition from rugby to the NFL is fierce. The complexities of the positions and playbooks are tough for even some of the best college players to grasp. And no franchise runs as sophisticated a system as the Chiefs.

But there was news this week that should encourage those who believe in Rees-Zammit and could be the minor miracle he needed to build a meaningful NFL career. NFL owners have agreed to a rule change that will overhaul the league’s kickoff procedure. In recent years, due to the sport’s ongoing concussion crisis, the league adopted a neutered version of kickoffs, the best chance for a player to gather the ball and make a play in the open field. To address injury concerns, the league drafted rules that drastically reduced the number of returns. Last season, only 23% of kickoffs were returned. The latest change will transform that….

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Source link : https://sports.yahoo.com/louis-rees-zammit-rugby-nfl-160428415.html

Author : The Guardian

Publish date : 2024-03-28 16:04:28

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