Sydney giant Jordan Mailata is expected to be a spectator while Geelong super boot Cameron Johnston carries the Australian flag in the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles’ regular season opener.
The Eagles host the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday (Friday 10.20am AEST) to launch the new NFL season.
Johnston, the Eagles’ only punter, is certain to make his NFL debut but the inexperienced Mailata is likely to be left out of the Eagles’ 46-man game day squad as the team slowly prepares him for the NFL.
Eagles’ vice-president of football operations Howie Roseman labelled the 203cm tall, 157kg Mailata as the team’s “53rd guy”, indicating the former Sydney Rabbitohs junior sits at the end of the team’s 53-man roster.
Mailata, who only played his first game of American football last month and is considered by Philadelphia as a two-year project, is also listed last among left tackles on the Eagles’ depth chart.
Eagles head coach Doug Pederson did solve the Eagles’ biggest personnel mystery by naming Nick Foles the starting quarterback against the Falcons while the more fancied Carson Wentz continues to recover from torn knee ligaments suffered nine months ago.
The Super Bowl champs were so high on Johnston, a former star punter for Ohio State and Melbourne Demons draftee, they did not bother signing a rival punter to go head-to-head with the redhead in training camp and he responded with a solid pre-season average of 49.3 yards per punt.
Aussies Michael Dickson and Adam Gotsis will be on opposing sides when the Seattle Seahawks take on the Denver Broncos on Sunday (Monday 6.25am AEST).
Former Sydney Swans junior Dickson, who became a rookie sensation in the preseason with punting wizardry, beat the Seahawks’ punter for the past decade, Jon Ryan, for the team’s job.
Melbourne’s 193cm tall, 130kg defensive end Gotsis enters the third season of his NFL career as a key member of the Broncos.
Gotsis’ future was in doubt this year when a woman accused him of rape in 2013 while he was a student athlete at Georgia Tech, but prosecutors announced on August 15 they would not pursue the charges.
Essendon-raised 27-year-old punter Jordan Berry enters his fourth season with the Pittsburgh Steelers after signing a one-year, $US1.9 million contract extension.
The Steelers open their season on Sunday (Monday 3am AEST) against the Cleveland Browns.
The Steelers, like past off-seasons, did not make it easy on Berry and put him in head-to-head competition with US punter/place kicker Matt Wile before the Australian secured his place on the team.
Former VFL and TAC Cup Aussie rules player Lachlan Edwards returns for his third year with the New York Jets.
The Jets play the Detroit Lions on Monday (Tuesday 12.10pm AEST).