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Pats activate first International Pathway player

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Fullback Jakob Johnson became the first player to enter the NFL through the International Pathway Program to make a 53-man roster when he was promoted from the New England Patriots practice squad on Saturday.

The International Player Pathway Program was instituted in 2017 and aims to provide international athletes the opportunity to compete at the NFL level, improve their skills, and ultimately earn a spot on an NFL roster.

Johnson was born in Stuttgart, Germany and played in 47 games at the University of Tennessee, initially as a linebacker before switching to tight end. In 2018, he appeared in 12 games for the Stuttgart Scorpions of the German Football League.

The Patriots were assigned Johnson as part of the International Pathway Program on April 8. The three other teams in the AFC East were also assigned players as part of a random draw, and none of them counted against the 90-man roster limit.

In 2018, Efe Obada became the first player from the International Pathway Program to make a 53-man roster with the Carolina Panthers, but he didn’t initially enter the NFL through the program. He had signed as a free agent with the Cowboys in 2015 after playing only five games of amateur football with the London Warriors, then was on the Cowboys practice squad before spending time in the 2016 offseason with the Chiefs and Falcons. In 2017, Obada was part of the first class of players in the International Pathway Program, which gave him additional time to develop with the Panthers.

During the season, teams can carry an International Pathway Program player as an extra 11th member of the practice squad, but because of the roster exemption, the clubs could not promote the player to the active roster during the season. In the case of Johnson, the Patriots elected to forgo that option and make him a regular member of their 10-man practice squad, which gave them the option of promoting him.

“Jak came in with a great attitude this offseason,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said a few weeks ago. “He really put his head down and worked hard through our offseason program, and then continued to do that in OTAs and into training camp — good attitude, he’s been out there every day, toughness, willing to do the things that you need to do to play that position on offense, smart kid, studies hard, prepares well, knows what to do and is ready to go. And he’s competitive, so I think there’s nothing more you can ask of each player than to give your best and be ready to go when your number’s called.”

The 6-foot-3, 255-pound Johnson steps in for injured starter James Develin, who has already been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the New York Jets with a neck injury.

The Patriots are one of the few teams in the NFL that still features the fullback, as Develin has played 41.5 percent of the offensive snaps through the first two weeks of the season. Develin also has an important role on the team’s punt coverage unit, which Johnson could also fill.

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Jaguars send Jalen Ramsey to Rams for pair of 1st-rounders

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jalen Ramsey got what he wanted, and so did the Jacksonville Jaguars.

As a result, the disgruntled cornerback is headed to the Los Angeles Rams.

The Jaguars on Tuesday sent Ramsey to the West Coast for first-round draft picks in 2020 and ’21, and a fourth-rounder in 2021, the teams announced. Ramsey joins two former Jaguars on the Rams in defensive end Dante Fowler and quarterback Blake Bortles — all three were taken with top-five draft picks from 2014 to ’16.

The move fills major holes in the secondary for a Rams team coming off an NFC title but losers of three straight games to fall to .500 on the season.

Los Angeles on Monday put starting cornerback Aqib Talib on injured reserve with a rib injury. On Tuesday, it agreed to trade Pro Bowl corner Marcus Peters to the Baltimore Ravens for linebacker Kenny Young and an undisclosed 2020 draft pick.

The Ramsey trade comes less than a week after Jaguars owner Shad Khan had what he described as a “heart-to-heart” meeting with the cornerback and two weeks after Khan told the Associated Press he didn’t want to deal the two-time Pro Bowler.

The Rams’ offer apparently was enough to change his mind.

Ramsey asked to be traded after Jaguars vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin scolded him for his actions during the team’s 13-12 Week 2 loss at Houston. Ramsey got into a sideline shouting match with Doug Marrone after the Jaguars coach refused Ramsey’s request to challenge a completion to DeAndre Hopkins.

Ramsey played against Tennessee the following Thursday but did not practice on the ensuing Monday because of an illness. He also missed that Wednesday’s practice with a back injury. Marrone said he didn’t know when Ramsey suffered the injury, but three hours later the team released a statement saying Ramsey actually did report back soreness to the team’s medical staff during the fourth quarter of the game against the Titans.

Later that day the team announced that Ramsey would return to his hometown for the impending birth of his second child.

Ramsey was inactive for the past three games because of the back injury, which snapped a streak of 51 consecutive starts that dated to when the Jaguars selected him fifth overall in 2016. Ramsey has nine interceptions and 45 pass breakups in his three-plus seasons.

The 24-year-old Ramsey is in the fourth season of his five-year rookie deal. He arrived at training camp in July in an armored bank truck, undoubtedly a not-so-subtle move in search of a raise.

A source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the Rams and Ramsey do not have any type of new deal in place, and that the cornerback in not in a rush to get one done.

After the deal, the Rams moved from 60-1 to 50-1 to win the Super Bowl and 25-1 to 20-1 to win the NFC at Caesars Sportsbook.

The Rams have lost three straight games, allowing the second-highest total QBR during that span (81.6, only behind the 82.0 of the Falcons).

Ramsey should help.

From 2016 to ’18, he recorded the fourth-most pass breakups in the league. And according to NFL Next Gen Stats, he has the fourth-lowest completion percentage allowed as the nearest defender since his rookie year in 2016 (minimum 200 targets).

But the move comes at a cost for Los Angeles.

The Rams haven’t had a first-round pick since selecting quarterback Jared Goff first overall in 2016. They currently don’t own another first-rounder until 2022.

Information from ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry and David Purdum was used in this report.

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Jaguars sending Jalen Ramsey to Rams for pair of 1st-rounders

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The Jacksonville Jaguars have traded disgruntled Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey to the Los Angeles Rams for first-round picks in 2020 and 2021, and a fourth-round pick in 2021, the teams announced Tuesday night.

The move comes after Los Angeles this week had put starting cornerback Aqib Talib on injured reserve with a rib injury and had agreed to trade Pro Bowl corner Marcus Peters to the Baltimore Ravens for linebacker Kenny Young and an undisclosed 2020 draft pick.

The deal ends a rocky 2019 run for Ramsey in Jacksonville.

He asked the team to trade him after being chastised by Jaguars executive VP of football operations Tom Coughlin following the team’s 13-12 Week 2 loss at Houston. Ramsey got into a sideline shouting match with coach Doug Marrone after Marrone refused Ramsey’s request to challenge a completion to DeAndre Hopkins.

After the Titans game the following week, Ramsey did not practice the following Monday because of an illness. He also missed that Wednesday’s practice because of his back injury. Marrone said he didn’t know when Ramsey suffered the injury, but three hours later the team released a statement saying Ramsey actually did report back soreness to the team’s medical staff during the fourth quarter of the game against the Titans.

Later that day the team announced that Ramsey would return to his hometown for the impending birth of his second child.

Ramsey rejoined the team three days later and flew on the team charter to Denver. He was inactive for the game against the Broncos, marking the first game he had missed since the Jaguars drafted him fifth overall.

Speaking last Thursday, Jaguars owner Shad Khan said he recently had a “heart-to-heart” meeting with the disgruntled cornerback and thought he would play against New Orleans this past Sunday. But Ramsey sat again, missing his third straight game.

Ramsey is in the fourth season of his five-year rookie deal. He arrived at training camp in July in an armored bank truck, undoubtedly a not-so-subtle move in search of a raise.

A source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the Rams and Ramsey do not have any type of new deal in place, and that the cornerback in not in a rush to get one done.

After the deal, the Rams moved from 60-1 to 50-1 to win the Super Bowl and 25-1 to 20-1 to win the NFC at Caesars Sportsbook.

Information from ESPN’s Michael DiRocco, Lindsey Thiry and David Purdum was used in this report.

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Patriots suspend Michael Bennett for detrimental conduct

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New England Patriots defensive end Michael Bennett, who wasn’t present at Tuesday’s practice, has been suspended for conduct detrimental to the team, according to league sources.

The suspension is a result of a disagreement between Bennett and defensive line coach Bret Bielema last Friday that was witnessed by some players, according to a source.

“On Friday, I had a philosophical disagreement with my position coach that has led to my suspension,” Bennett told ESPN. “I apologize to my teammates for any distraction this may have caused.”

Bennett’s suspension was listed on the NFL’s transactions wire.

Bennett played just 11 of 50 snaps in the Patriots’ win over the New York Giants last Thursday. His first snaps came at the start of the second quarter.

Players reviewed that game with coaches on Friday before getting Saturday, Sunday and Monday off. They returned for practice Tuesday, but Bennett wasn’t present. A game program and his belongings remained scattered around his locker Tuesday.

Bennett, 33, became one of the team’s biggest offseason acquisitions when the club traded a fifth-round draft pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for Bennett and a seventh-rounder. He was projected as a replacement for Trey Flowers, the team’s sack leader from 2018 who had signed with the Detroit Lions as a free agent.

But after playing 39 snaps in the opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bennett has seen his playing time decrease as the defense altered its approach. Such changes in the game plan on a weekly basis are standard operating procedure for the Patriots.

Bennett played 25 snaps in Week 2 against the Miami Dolphins, then 19 vs. the New York Jets, 24 against the Buffalo Bills and 15 vs. the Washington Redskins.

Having primarily been a 4-3 defensive end over his career, Bennett has mostly been a situational pass-rusher with the Patriots. Part of that has been due to the emergence of linebacker Jamie Collins and nose tackle Danny Shelton, who are having career years as the defense has switched to more of a 3-4 scheme in base situations.

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