Quarterback Brandon Bridge will attempt to make America’s team as an undrafted free agent.
The native of Mississauga, Ont., said Sunday he has agreed to attend the Dallas Cowboys’ rookie mini-camp next weekend at Valley Ranch. Bridge added he hasn’t signed with the NFL club as of yet.
“I’m very excited about this,” Bridge said in a telephone interview. “I’m really looking forward to it.”
Veteran Tony Romo is Dallas’s starter, with Brandon Weeden and Dustin Vaughan listed as his backups. It’s worth noting Romo signed with the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent out of Eastern Illinois after being bypassed in the 2003 NFL draft.
Bridge became a free agent after being overlooked in this year’s draft, which concluded Saturday in Chicago. The six-foot-four 229-pound Bridge was looking to become the first Canadian-born quarterback selected since 2001 when Ottawa’s Jesse Palmer went in the fourth round to the New York Giants.
Following the completion of the draft, there were reports Bridge had signed a free-agent deal with Detroit. Bridge said while his representative spoke with the Lions on Saturday, no agreement was reached.
“There were talks but, no, I didn’t sign anything (with Lions),” he said.
Rice defensive tackle Christian Covington was the lone Canadian taken in the draft. The six-foot-two, 290-pound Covington, of Surrey, B.C., went in the sixth round, No. 216 overall, to the Houston Texans.
Covington is the son of former CFL star Grover Covington, who registered a league-record 157 career sacks as a defensive end with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (1981-’91) before being inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2000.
According to the Cowboys’ website, the club expected to sign around 15 players before the start of mini-camp. However it added at least another 12 will be there on a tryout basis.
Bridge began his U.S. college career at Alcorn State before transferring to South Alabama in 2012.
Bridge, who has run a 4.64-second 40-yard dash, appeared in 11 games last year with the Jaguars, completing 160 of 307 passes (52.1 per cent) for 1,927 yards with 15 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He also ran for 297 yards and four TDs.
Bridge capped his college career by playing in the NFLPA Bowl before working out at the NFL combine.
Last month, Bridge performed before 12 NFL scouts and two CFL representatives at his pro day in Mobile, Ala., impressing pro officials with the off-season work he did to improve his mechanics and footwork. He went into the draft projected as a late-round selection and admitted to experiencing a myriad of emotions watching the proceedings on television Saturday.
“With it being out of your control, that’s very difficult to adjust to,” Bridge said. “I’m just very excited now.”
Yale running back Tyler Varga, from Kitchener, Ont., was also a projected late-round pick who was bypassed in the draft. But the five-foot-10, 227-pound Varga tweeted he signed as a free agent with the Indianapolis Colts.
Varga had 1,423 rushing yards and a school-record 26 TDs last season to capture the Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League’s offensive player of the year. Varga was Canadian university football’s top rookie in 2011 at Western before transferring to Yale.
Varga participated in the Senior Bowl in January _ just the second Yale player ever to and its first since ’51 _ then was invited to the NFL combine in February.
Brett Boyko, an offensive lineman from Saskatoon who played collegiately at UNLV, signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Also, Montreal Carabins linebacker Byron Archambault will attend the New York Giants mini-camp next weekend. Joining him there will be Western defensive lineman Daryl Waud, Calgary offensive linemen Sean McEwen and Sukh Chungh, Regina defensive back Tevaughn Campbell and Simon Fraser receiver Lemar Durant.
Waud will also attend the Washington Redskins mini-camp in two weeks while UConn offensive lineman Alex Mateas is headed to the New York Jets rookie mini-camp.