Aussies have proven to be among the best punters in the NFL — now our biggest men are making a splash on the offensive line.
Hulking ex-rugby league star Jordan Mailata signed a four-year deal worth up to $A108 million ($USD80m) last year and has started the season beautifully on the 3-0 Philadelphia Eagles.
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But Mailata isn’t the only Aussie big man taking on the NFL as 174kg, 203cm Baltimore Ravens rookie Daniel Faalele was thrust into the hot seat on Monday.
Faalele debuted last week in Baltimore’s 42-38 loss to Miami but played a much bigger role in game two after Patrick Mekari went down with an early injury.
An injury crisis has hit the Ravens hard and Faalele, who was widely believed to be a project the Ravens this season, was thrust into the limelight to defend Baltimore’s 2019 MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson at left tackle — despite never having played the position before in his college career.
Faalele had 1500 college snaps at right tackle at the University of Minnesota and was picked up in the fourth round of the NFL Draft last season.
He is fourth in the depth chart at left tackle.
And it started horribly for Faalele, as the Patriots’ Deatrich Wise put plenty of pressure on the Aussie, claiming a pair of sacks against the 22-year-old from Melbourne.
But he soon settled as the Ravens blew the Patriots away 37-26 on the back of four passing touchdowns from Jackson as well as a rushed TD.
But Jackson was all praise for Faalele after the match.
“You know, (Daniel) Faalele is a rookie, so I knew that was kind of happen to see where he was, but I guess one sack happened after that, and he just started dominating like he did in college,” Jackson said of the Aussie.
“I didn’t doubt him at all. None of us did. It was for Pat (Mekari).
“Mekari left it out of the field for us, and the linemen said it, we was all dialled in, and shout out to Faalele because he stepped up major.
“He (Faalele) was just getting used to the game. He wasn’t expecting to just have to get in there and play left tackle for someone else. He got in and started executing, he got his feet wet, got out there and started doing what he was doing.
“‘Mo’ (Morgan Moses) was doing his thing, ‘Zeit’ (Kevin Zeitler), our other rookie, our centre, Tyler (Linderbaum), and Ben Powers, they were doing a terrific job.
“Everybody was locked in. They were determined, as well, more than the skill guys. Shout out to my linemen.”
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh paid tribute to the Aussie for his performance after getting beaten early.
“Early on we needed to help the left tackle, and we did a couple times but then we didn’t need to,” Harbaugh said.
“Then he (Faalele) kind got his footing there, and then the run game started perking up.
“I thought the offensive line played just a tremendous football game. They played really well last week, too, so they’re whipping into shape there.”