Christian Wade

AFC Notes: Bowlen, Shazier, Titans

The family of late Broncos owner Pat Bowlen will receive Bowlen’s Gold Jacket and Hall of Fame ring, as Mike Klis of 9News.com writes. Bowlen was elected to the Hall of Fame in February but passed away in June, making him the first HOFer to die between his election and his induction. Typically, the HOF doesn’t present the jacket and the ring to those enshrined posthumously because it doesn’t want the family to fight over the artifacts or sell them, but the production of the artifacts had already begun before Bowlen passed.

The family will display the items in the front lobby of the Broncos’ UCHealth Center headquarters so that they can be enjoyed by fans.

Now for more from the AFC:

  • David Furones of the South Florida Sun Sentinel explores the relationship between Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier and his high school teammate, trainer, and close friend, Jerome Howard. Howard has been with Shazier throughout his recovery and has assisted him in his efforts to get back to the playing field. The piece is well-worth a read, especially for Steelers fans, as it also details the remarkable progress that Shazier has made. A return to football is still a long way off, but he has already overcome tremendous odds just to be walking again, let alone exercising the way he is.
  • We heard in May that Colts WR Deon Cain was expected to be a full participant in training camp, but Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk says that Cain’s status is still unclear. However, she does hear that Cain should be ready to go at least by the regular season opener, which could a huge boon to Indianapolis’ aerial attack. Cain, a 2018 sixth-rounder, generated a lot of hype before tearing his ACL last August and is highly-regarded by the coaching staff. He is currently the fourth WR on the depth chart.
  • Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com believes linebacker Kamalei Correa will make the Titans‘ roster and will have an impact in 2019, but he is on the bubble and will need to fight for a spot on the club. In the same piece, Wyatt says that he does not expect Tennessee to bring back safety Johnathan Cyprien, although the team said after releasing Cyprien in March that it would like to re-sign him at a cheaper rate.
  • Bills RB Christian Wade was assigned to Buffalo’s roster as part of the league’s international pathway program, which means he is eligible to be the 11th man on the club’s practice squad. But as Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk writes, Wade believes he can crack the 53-man roster. That will be a tall order given that veterans LeSean McCoy, Frank Gore, and T.J. Yeldon, along with third-round rookie Devin Singletary, are ahead of him on the depth chart. But McCoy and Gore will be free agents after the season, and Yeldon could be a cap casualty by that time, so if Wade impresses, he could be a roster candidate in 2020.

Complete 2019 NFL International Pathway Program

Moritz Boehringer is back in the NFL. The German tight end, who became the first European player ever to be drafted without playing American college football back in 2016, has been allocated to the Bengals as part of the league’s international pathway program, per Darin Gantt of ProFootballTalk.com.

Boehringer’s assignment to the Bengals completes this year’s program. Each season, teams in two divisions get a roster exemption to develop a player from another country. The player can be the 91st man on offseason rosters, and can be an 11th player on practice squads during the regular season. Boehringer was drafted by the Vikings, but spent his rookie season on the practice squad without ever appearing in a game. He came into the league as a receiver, but has since transitioned to tight end. He was with the Bengals as part of this program last year, and will be back in Cincy in 2019.

Here’s a list of the rest of the players selected to participate:

Baltimore Ravens

  • FB Christopher Ezeala

Buffalo Bills

  • RB Christian Wade

Cleveland Browns 

  • DB Tigie Sankoh

Miami Dolphins

  • DT Durval Neto

New England Patriots

  • TE/FB Jakob Johnson

New York Jets

  • RB/WR/KR Valentine Holmes

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • TE Christian Scotland-Williamson

The AFC North participated last year, but this year the AFC East is taking the place of the NFC South. Notably, Efe Obada was a participant in the program with the Panthers last year, and he went on to make Carolina’s 53-man roster last season. He was re-signed this offseason.

Each of the players assigned to the AFC North were with those teams last year. Scotland-Williamson is a former rugby player, while Boehringer, Sankoh, and Ezeala all played American football overseas before making the leap.

All of the AFC East players are new to the program. Given the Patriots’ track record of finding hidden gems, Johnson will likely end up leading the league in receiving yards at some point. Johnson was signed from the German football league. Neto was playing football in Brazil before being added to the Dolphins. Wade and Holmes are both former prominent rugby players.