Two Aussie's are now without NFL teams:
The Roar wrote:
Ben Graham cut from Arizona Cardinals
Widely considered one of the best punters in the NFL, ex-AFL player Ben Graham has been a shock cut by the Arizona Cardinals after two and a half years of punting which included Arizona’s only Superbowl run.
Applauded for his ability to land punts inside the 20 yard line, Graham was amongst the league’s top punters with his ability to kick torpedos and drop punts (called end-over-end punts in America) to land the ball inside the 20 yard line consistently highly desirable.
Following a successful AFL career, Graham popularised the drop punt which he controlled better than any other punter, often landing the ball on the 1 or 2 yard line.
In 2008, Graham averaged 42y (net 32y) to be ranked 12th in the league. 2009 was his most productive averaging 47y (net 40.6y) to be ranked 2nd as well as equaling the record for most punts landed inside 20, with 42.
Being snubbed out of a Pro-bowl selection, Graham had been a unanimous tip amongst experts. 2010 saw a slight decline where Graham averaged 43.4y (net 36.6y) to still be ranked 9th.
Graham has now lost the job to veteran punter David Zastudil, and is now the second Australian punter to be released after losing a preseason battle.
Former Collingwood forward Chris Bryan was earlier released by the New York Jets after struggling with consistency and distance.
Bryan has now been released by three teams across two years but at only 29 years of age, he is considered a young punter who may receive practice squad and preseason trials in the future.
Sav Rocca remains the only ex-AFL player with a job in the NFL. Released by Philadelphia after breaking almost every punting record in the franchise’s history, Rocca immediately stepped into Washington where he has averaged 44y (net 36.6y).
Australian Mat McBriar rounds out the Australian NFL influence where he will once again line up for the Dallas Cowboys in his eighth season after being selected All-Pro in 2010.
Voted captain of special teams in 2010, Graham’s departure is likely to affect the output of kicker Jay Feely whom Graham held for. Converting 24 field goals from 27 attempts, Feely ranked fourth in the league for accuracy.
In the preseason, Graham has averaged 43.5y (net 39.8y) against Zastudil’s 47.5y (net 33y). Although net yards mean little in the preseason due to second unit special teams giving up more return yards than regular season first teams, the minor difference would be expected to still fall in favour of Graham who had already built successful chemistry with Feely.
Playing in the games lowest contact position, Graham’s age (37) should not be a factor so long as he is capable of performing at the highest level. Now on the free agency market, Graham will be at the top of the punter list and teams should have no hesitation if their regular punter struggles to perform.
Arizona Sports wrote:
Ben Graham, Matt Ware among 25 roster cuts for Cardinals
The Cardinals trimmed their roster to 53 players Friday, making a few surprise cuts along the way.
Most notably is punter Ben Graham, who apparently lost the training camp battle to veteran Dave Zastudil.
Re-signed prior to camp, Graham was never able to rediscover the magic that led to his excellent 2009 campaign, and it finally cost him his job.
"That was an area that we just felt like we needed to improve in," head coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "I can't thank Ben enough for the work he's done for us. He's been an important contributor to some of our good teams, certainly the Super Bowl year and the year after that.
"We just felt like where we were as a team that was an area we needed to improve our consistency in."
I can't see why they needed to replace Graham. In his 4 pre-season games he went: 4-181yds, 45.3av, 1 -20, L57 @OAK; 2-86yds, 43.0av, L48 @GB; 4-165yds, 41.3av, 3 -20, L48 vs. SD and 3-133yds, 44.3av, 3 -20, L58 vs. DEN. Zastudil who replaced him only played in the last game with the Cardinals, incredible they went with him just off one game. At least being still pretty good Graham should get picked up by another team quite soon. Pity also about Bryan getting cut by the Jets too, though his performance in the pre-season wasn't as good as Conley's so I can understand the Jets not going with him.