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Former GSL, IEL standouts in training camps looking for a spot on NFL rosters

UPDATED: Mon., Aug. 14, 2017, 6:41 p.m.

The 67-yard field goal Austin Rehkow drilled as a Central Valley senior is still generating views on YouTube, five years removed from the storied kick.

His chip shot on Thursday night wasn’t nearly as impressive, a fourth-quarter PAT in the Buffalo Bills’ 17-10 preseason win against the Minnesota Vikings.

It was, however, the first of Rehkow’s professional career.

“I definitely think I can play at this level if given the opportunity,” said Rehkow, an undrafted rookie out of Idaho. “My goal is to be here in Buffalo.”

He’s not not the only local trying to carve out an NFL career.

Former University High and Washington State offensive lineman Joe Dahl (Detroit); former Shadle Park and Eastern Washington offensive lineman Jake Rodgers (Pittsburgh); former Central Valley and Utah State corner Will Davis (San Francisco) and former Coeur d’Alene High and Carroll College offensive lineman Josh James (Kansas City) all garnered reps in their recent preseason openers.

The 6-foot-4, 305-pound Dahl, who started at right guard last week, appears to be the only shoo-in among the five to make his team’s 53-man roster. Rodgers, Davis and James have been relegated to third- and fourth-string.

Rehkow, a punter and kicker, is in a three-man race for two available spots.

If not for former Gonzaga Prep and University of Washington star Bishop Sankey’s season-ending injury on Thursday, there’d be six locals in NFL training camp, five hailing from the Greater Spokane League.

Sankey, a second-string running back for the Vikings, tore his ACL after a 14-yard run against the Bills. He was waived the next day to free up space for another ball carrier.

“That says a lot of about the talent back home,” Rehkow said of the handful of locals in training camp. “There have been good players coming out of that area for years.”

James, whose 6-foot-6, 305-pound frame had scouts watching him in the lower rungs of college football, is relishing the experience.

“I never really expected to be in the position I am, playing with the Chiefs. It seems unreal sometimes,” James said. “I am just rolling with the third string string now, still fighting for a spot.”

James signed with the Packers as an undrafted free agent in 2016 before being plagued by nagging hamstring injuries in training camp. He saw his first preseason action with the Chiefs in the fourth quarter of against the 49ers last week.

“Everyone here is nice and cool and driven. It’s a good fit,” he said. “But nothing is certain.”

At a glance

 (AP)
(AP)

Will Davis, DB, San Francisco

5-11, 185

Central Valley High

Utah State

Taken 93rd overall in the 2013 NFL Draft by the Dolphins, Davis suffered career-altering ACL injuries in Miami and with the Baltimore Ravens before signing a one-year contract with the 49ers in June. Davis was listed as a fourth-team right-side corner on 49ers depth chart before their preseason game against the Chiefs last week.

Joe Dahl, OL, Detroit Lions

6-4, 305

University High

Washington State

A fifth-round pick by the Lions in 2016, Dahl saw limited playing time as a rookie. With injuries currently depleting the Lions’ offensive front, Dahl has since ascended up the depth chart. He started at right guard in his team’s preseason opener at Indianapolis.

Jake Rodgers, OL, Pittsburgh Steelers

6-6, 320

Shadle Park High

Eastern Washington

Rodgers is on his fourth NFL team in 28 months since being selected in the seventh round by the Falcons in 2015. Rodgers, who signed with the Steelers in May, saw limited reps in a preseason opener against the New York Giants.

Josh James, OL, Kansas City Chiefs

6-6, 305

Coeur d’Alene High

Carroll College

An undrafted free agent out of the NAIA school in Helena, Montana, James signed with the Packers in 2016 before agreeing to an injury settlement (hamstring) at the end of the preseason. James, the brother of University of Washington starting tackle Matt James, signed a futures contract with the Chiefs in January and is currently listed as a third-team right guard on the Chiefs’ preseason depth chart.

Austin Rehkow, P/K, Buffalo Bills

6-3, 214

Central Valley High

University of Idaho

Rehkow, an All-American, went undrafted in April before signing a free-agent contract with the Bills. Boasting a utility foot, Rehkow is listed as a second-team punter, place kicker and kick-off man on Buffalo’s most recent depth chart.

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