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This weekend was do-or-die for our Aussies as NFL teams finalised their rosters and they had a rough start. Veteran punter (previously of the Dallas Cowboys) Mat McBriar was cut by the Philadelphia Eagles
and the young Hayden Smith was released by the New York Jets.
But let's not worry too much. Smith has signed with the Jets' practice squad
and I find it hard to believe McBriar won't find a team willing to give a veteran of his calibre a shot.
Let's also keep in mind the Philadelphia Eagles have now cut two Australians in two years. Just saying.
There are currently two Australians with starting roles, Sav Rocca (Washington Redskins) and Ben Graham (Detroit Lions).
Rocca punted throughout the preseason and averaged 40.4 yards from 18 total punts - below his 42.9 yard career average. Graham managed a 42.5 yard per punt average in his four games - like Rocca, below his 44.2 career average.
Rocca was reasonably safe but Graham did a good job to win his battle with Ryan Donahue, who was cut over the weekend.
Aussies In The NCAA
Scott Harding had a great first game of the season with the Hawaii Warriors. He managed 43 yards receiving and a touchdown, 37.1 yards punting and a 39-yard punt return. Yes, you read right - he punted, returned, and lined up at WR. His touchdown lit up twitter, and for a moment #ScottHarding was trending in Australia. Nice work guys.
Unfortunately his punts were as not as consistent as we'd have liked. While he did manage a monster 50 yarder in the opening quarter, pinning USC on their own 1, most punts fell very short, just over 30 yards.
But Harding certainly proved his versatility this week showcasing three crucial skills of the game. How do you make it in the NFL? You show you can contribute on special teams too.
In the post-game press meeting, Harding suggested he'll continue to take on the role for the Warriors for the rest of the season.
"It was good fun actually, good fun to kick the ball again, back to my Australian football days," Harding said.
"It was more fun to catch a touchdown, I was pretty happy about that and hopefully there's plenty more to come."
The fact he was punting left and right-footed was not lost on the reporters, nor the commentators during the game.
It bears mentioning that the game was televised by Fox and shown nationally which is huge exposure for the Aussie hopeful. While he would have peferred a win, Scott Harding certainly raised some eyebrows all across America.
This is only a good thing.
Another Aussie played for the Warriors in that blowout loss against USC, Blake Muir, the OT. It's hard to guage his performance but I did notice a false start. By the end of the game his QB was sacked five times, but that might not mean anything.
Another young Aussie Jamie Keehn had his first start with LSU. You might recall LSU already had another Aussie, Brad Wing, as their punter. Wing was reportedly sidelined with a hamstring injury and Jamie immediately made the most of his opportunity with a 51-yard punt in the first quarter. He finished averaging 41 yards from three punts.
Alabama DL Jesse Williams had a solid game against Michigan. His defence did a great job containing the mobile QB Denard Robinson. He finished the game with only half a tackle, however given his position as NT and his job on the field - to soak up blocks - we should be fine with this. Keep in mind, that Michigan offence was supposed to be a high-powered one.
They were dominating on defence, just how Saban likes it.
Have A Tip?
If you think there's an Aussie gridiron player giving it his all in the States right now who deserves attention please let us know.
We'll be sure to mention him in the next edition.
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