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Gotsis to emerge from Hayne's NFL shadow

AAP logoAAP 5/09/2016 Peter Mitchell

The Jarryd Hayne sideshow has departed the NFL, but a potential Australian-grown star has emerged in his place.

His name is Adam Gotsis, a 193cm tall, 130kg rookie defensive tackle from the Melbourne suburb of Abbotsford who has bulldozed his way onto the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos' 53-man squad.

Not only that.

The 23-year-old Gotsis earned his spot in the Broncos' defensive unit - the top-rated and most feared in the NFL - while overcoming a torn left anterior cruciate ligament.

"Adam Gotsis is looking incredible out there," Broncos' Super Bowl MVP Von Miller recently told reporters.

The NFL regular season opens on Thursday (Friday AEST) when the Broncos host the Carolina Panthers in a re-match of Denver's 24-10 Super Bowl victory.

A few months ago Australia had a record 10 players in contention to play in NFL this season.

With Hayne returning to the NRL and other hopefuls failing to make rosters, it appears Gotsis, offensive lineman David Yankey (Carolina Panthers) and punters Brad Wing (New York Giants), Jordan Berry (Pittsburgh Steelers) and Lachlan Edwards (New York Jets) will be representing Australia.

However, injuries and the cut-throat nature of the NFL, where players are fired for a misguided punt, fumble or just to save money, opens up the likely prospect other Australians will receive a call from a team.

AUSTRALIANS IN THE NFL

ADAM GOTSIS (Denver Broncos)

Position: defensive end

Age: 23

Height: 193cm

Weight: 130kg

Born: Melbourne

With the lack of American football leagues in Melbourne, Gotsis was forced as a 14-year-old to play 18-year-olds and then, in his later teenage years, battle grown men.

He scored a scholarship to Georgia Tech, but in last year's fourth and final season tore up his knee. The Broncos, particularly defensive line coach Bill Kollar, was not deterred and the team made a surprise move by taking the Australian with their valuable second round pick at April's NFL draft.

DAVID YANKEY (Carolina Panthers)

Position: guard

Age: 24

Height: 198cm

Weight: 145kg

Born: Sydney

After being drafted in 2014 by the Minnesota Vikings and then cut, the Panthers threw Yankey a lifeline but then waived him last week.

He received another chance when the Panthers signed him to their practice squad.

BRAD WING (New York Giants)

Position: punter

Age: 25

Height: 191cm

Weight: 93kg

Born: Melbourne

After a making headlines for good and bad reasons at Louisiana State University, being cut by the Philadelphia Eagles and last year losing an Aussie vs Aussie battle with Jordan Berry at the Pittsburgh Steelers, Wing has found a home at the Giants.

Last season he tied the Giants' franchise record of 33 punts inside the 20-yard line and in the just finished pre-season topped all punters by averaging 47.3 yards a punt.

JORDAN BERRY (Pittsburgh Steelers)

Position: punter

Age: 25

Height: 196cm

Weight: 88kg

Born: Melbourne

The Steelers have had a revolving door at the punter position, but the consistent Berry who is skilled at directional punting has become an integral member of the team.

LACHLAN EDWARDS (New York Jets)

Position: punter

Age: 24

Height: 196cm

Weight: 97kg

Born: Mornington Peninsula, Victoria

To make the Jets' squad Edwards went head to head in the off-season and beat the most heralded Australian punter in US college history, Tom Hackett.

The Jets are high on Edwards, using a seventh round draft pick on him, and the local press have also become fans of the punter.

"Lachlan Edwards may only be a punter, but he's going to be a damn good one in the NFL," New Jersey's Star-Ledger told readers last week.

AUSTRALIANS IN WAITING

- Tom Hackett made history when he won back-to-back Ray Guy Awards for best college punter at the University of Utah. But his crafty, rugby style punting apparently was not as attractive to the Jets as Edwards' more traditional style. There's a good chance an NFL team will take a punt and sign Hackett in coming weeks.

- Blake Muir, another giant Sydney-born offensive lineman, spent the off-season at the 49ers before being cut. There are reports he worked out with the Green Bay Packers at the weekend so could end up with the coveted gig of protecting star quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

- Adelaide goal kicker Brad Craddock, after a record-setting stint at the University of Maryland, was signed by the Cleveland Browns, but in May the team cut him.

- Former AFL player Joel Wilkinson was hoping to use his athletic 186cm tall body in the defensive cornerback position at the Arizona Cardinals, but the team released him in May.

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