Canadians in the NFL

Canadians in the NFL

Two of the four Canadians who heard their names called at the 2014 NFL Draft are anxious to hit the reset button.

The Ravens selected Virginia defensive lineman BRENT URBAN, a six-foot-seven, 295-pound native of Mississauga, Ont., in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. They then selected Winnipeg native John Urschel, an offensive lineman at Penn State, in the fifth round.

While Urschel found himself starting on the offensive line during the playoffs, Urban’s season ended with a knee injury in training camp.

According to Baltimore Sun reporter Jon Meoli, Urban’s rehabilitation is going well.

“I’m starting to run and do a lot more on-the-field stuff now,” Urban told Meoli. “It’s feel good as far as strength and stability. All that stuff, [I’m] just working to get back at 100 percent where I can run and do everything like that. It’s going well. Everything’s on track.”

Urban was scheduled to be part of a deep defensive end rotation for the Ravens in his rookie season.

“It’s tough,” Urban told Meoli. “This is the first season I’ve actually missed the entire season. I’ve had a lot of injuries in my career, but this is the first time I’ve had to sit back and watch an entire season. It was tough at first, but it’s just a part of the game. Sometimes you get unlucky, you’ve just got to deal with it basically, just suck it up. It was tough, but it was great to see the team winning. It just made me more hungry to want to get back.”

The next Canadian selected in the 2014 Draft is also looking to hit the refresh button after an injury-plagued rookie season.
The Detroit Lions selected Notre Dame receiver T.J. JONES, from Winnipeg, in the sixth round.

Jones’ father, played six games for the Detroit Lions in 1992 and was a defensive end on Notre Dame’s 1988 national championship team. His godfather is Raghib “Rocket” Ismail, a star receiver for Notre Dame from 1988-91 who started his career with the Canadian league’s Toronto Argonauts.

According to Lions GM Martin Mayhew, Jones will have a chance to return kicks this season.

“TJ came in and had a little bit of a shoulder issue, got it operated on, and ended up with a bigger issue that lasted for most of the season. He was able to practice for those 21 days he was on PUP (and allowed to practice), but we determined he wasn’t quite ready to get in a game for us. We’ll take a look at him next year. He’s got some return ability. He can play in the slot. He’s also another really smart football player. I think he has an opportunity to make our team as a fourth or fifth type of guy with some return ability. We’ll see how he does this offseason,” Mayhew told writer Tim Twentyman.

Another Canadian facing some uncertainty is Toronto native ORLANDO FRANKLIN. The offensive lineman’s rookie contract expires in March, but Denver Post reporter Nicki Jhabvala reports that the offensive lineman hopes to resign with the Broncos.

Orlando Franklin’s time in Denver might have ended with Sunday’s playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts. But the guard hopes it didn’t.
Franklin, one of the Broncos’ 12 players headed for free agency, made it clear Monday that he wants to return.

“I don’t know anything else. I’m a Bronco,” Franklin told Jhabvala. “I’d love to be a Bronco for the rest of my life.”

Jhabvala wrote that emotions were high as Denver players cleaned out their lockers after a surprise playoff loss to the Colts, but that Franklin, who was been with the Broncos since they drafted him in 2011, seemed to feel the sting more, especially in regard to the possibility that Peyton Manning might not be back.

“I played with three quarterbacks since I’ve been in this league. I’ll take Peyton Manning any day of the week,” Franklin told Jhabvala. “He’s a phenomenal quarterback. Yes, we’re all going to make mistakes. It’s football. No one is going to be 100 percent perfect each and every play. But nine times out of 10, he’s going to put you in the best situation and the best position to win games.”

Kitchener’s TYLER VARGA also hopes to be on an NFL roster in 2015.

Varga had an impressive showing for National Football League scouts in the January 24 Senior Bowl, scoring two touchdowns to lead the North to a 34-13 victory in the annual top-prospects game.

The Yale running back and Ivy League offensive player of the year rushed for scores of 13 and seven yards in the fourth quarter. Overall Vargo finished with four carries for 31 yards and caught four passes for 39 yards while serving as the North team’s Captain.