Three NFL players kneel for U.S. national anthem, stand for British anthem during Saints-Dolphins London game

Sunday's first NFL game was marked by a mix of protests amid the ongoing debate over how NFL players should exercise their voice during the national anthem. 

The New Orleans Saints took a page from the Cowboys as the game against the Miami Dolphins began in London, kneeling together as a team initially, but then standing and locking arms as the U.S. national anthem was sung by Darius Rucker. 

SEE ALSO: 'BURN THE NFL': Americans are destroying football jerseys after players kneel in protest

Meanwhile, at least three members of the Dolphins -- Kenny Stills, Michael Thomas and Julius Thomas -- were seen kneeling during "The Star-Spangled Banner." All three then stood for the British anthem, "God Save the Queen," which was sung because the game was being played in England. 

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NFL Week 4: How players protested during the national anthem
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NFL Week 4: How players protested during the national anthem
NFL Football - Miami Dolphins vs New Orleans Saints - NFL International Series - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - October 1, 2017 Miami Dolphins players kneel during the U.S. national anthem before the match Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs
NFL Football - Miami Dolphins vs New Orleans Saints - NFL International Series - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - October 1, 2017 Miami Dolphins players kneel during the U.S. national anthem before the match Action Images via Reuters/Matthew Childs
NFL Football - Miami Dolphins vs New Orleans Saints - NFL International Series - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - October 1, 2017 New Orleans Saints players kneel before the U.S. national anthem before the match Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs
NFL Football - Miami Dolphins vs New Orleans Saints - NFL International Series - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - October 1, 2017 New Orleans Saints players during the U.S. national anthem before the match Action Images via Reuters/Matthew Childs
NFL Football - Miami Dolphins vs New Orleans Saints - NFL International Series - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - October 1, 2017 Miami Dolphins players during the U.S. national anthem before the match Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs
Sep 28, 2017; Green Bay, WI, USA; Chicago Bears players kneel in the end zone prior to their game the Green Bay Packers against before the national anthem at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 28, 2017; Green Bay, WI, USA; Fans hold up an American flag during national anthem prior to the game between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 28, 2017; Green Bay, WI, USA; The Green Bay Packers link arms during the national anthem prior to the game against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 28, 2017; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb (18), quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12), tight end Richard Rodgers (82) and wide receiver Davante Adams (17) link arms during the National Anthem prior to their game against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Jacksonville Jaguars players stand during the national anthem before their NFL football game against the New York Jets in East Rutherford, New Jersey, U.S. October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
Jacksonville Jaguars players kneel before the national anthem before their NFL football game against the New York Jets in East Rutherford, New Jersey, U.S. October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
Oct 1, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Detroit Lions linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin (44) and linebacker Steve Longa (54) kneel during the national anthem before the game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 1, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Members of the Cleveland Browns raise their fists during the national anthem before the game between the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 1, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Los Angeles Rams linebacker Robert Quinn (94) raises his fist during the national anthem against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 1, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Los Angeles Rams linebacker Robert Quinn (94) raises his fist during the national anthem against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
NFL Football - Miami Dolphins vs New Orleans Saints - NFL International Series - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - October 1, 2017 New Orleans Saints players take the knee before the start of the national anthem Action Images via Reuters/Matthew Childs
Oct 1, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets players lock arms during the national anthem before a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
The New England Patriots players stand together for the U.S. National Anthem before their NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Foxborough, Massachusetts, U.S., October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
The New England Patriots players stand together for the U.S. National Anthem before their NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers in Foxborough, Massachusetts, U.S., October 1, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 01: The Pittsburgh Steelers stand on the field during the National Anthem on October 1, 2017, at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, MD. (Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Oct 1, 2017; Glendale, AZ, USA; Members of the San Francisco 49ers kneel during the National Anthem prior to a game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 1, 2017; Glendale, AZ, USA; Members of the San Francisco 49ers kneel during the National Anthem prior to a game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 1, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos inside linebacker Brandon Marshall (54) and free safety Darian Stewart (26) react along with teammates during the American national anthem before a game against the Oakland Raiders at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 1, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos inside linebacker Brandon Marshall (54) and free safety Darian Stewart (26) and cornerback Aqib Talib (21) and cornerback Chris Harris Jr. (25) react along with teammates during the American national anthem before a game against the Oakland Raiders at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 1, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Buffalo Bills players shown during the National Anthem prior to the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
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The anthem protests sprang into the spotlight last week when President Donald Trump took aim at the participating players during a speech in Alabama ahead of the NFL's week three Sunday games.

Trump's criticism has not abated since those initial comments. The president sent a new tweet criticizing NFL players for standing, calling into question the motivations of the protest. 

"When you kneel for our #NationalAnthem, you aren't protesting a specific issue, you are protesting our Nation and EVERYTHING it stands for !!" he wrote in his latest tweet about the protests, sent Sunday morning. 

SEE MORE: Trump says 'very important' NFL players stand for National Anthem

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who originally spurred the demonstrations but is not currently playing in the NFL, said he began kneeling for the anthem because of American oppression. 

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick said in an interview in 2016. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

The president has called on the NFL to institute a rule forcing players to stand during the anthem.

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