ALEX Gray, a former England rugby sevens captain, was among four players named to NFL practice squads under a new International Player Pathway program.

NFC South division teams — the Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints — will each have a roster exemption to carry an extra practice squad member from outside the United States, although one that cannot be activated during the 2017 season.

Gray, a tight end, will join the Falcons’ reserve squad while fellow Englishman Alex Jenkins, a defensive end, will join the Saints’ practice line-up.

“I have been working hard for this goal and to be told it was going to happen was an amazing moment,” Gray said.

“This is the start of another journey. It is a fantastic thing that is happening, but I am not going to get to where I want to be without keeping myself grounded.”

Gray, 26, captained England rugby union Under-16, Under-18, Under-20 and International Sevens squads. He would have been on the Rio Olympic side had he not been sidelined by injury. Gray played for Newcastle Falcons, London Irish and Yorkshire Carnegie before converting to American football.

“Making the decision to give this my all from rugby, there was a big transition period and it was mentally very humbling,” Gray said.

“When you have to start from scratch again, that was a huge mental battle for me. When I look back I will be very proud of the way I approached this.”

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