Steelers punter Mat McBriar has played Austrailian Rules football, which is more to say he played it; he did not excel in it the way the three other Australian imports who have played in the NFL had.
Darren Bennett, probably the most famous of the quartet, was certainly the best. A two-time All Pro punter for the Chargers, he was named to the league's All Decade team for the 1990s. Among his list of accomplishments in the NFL was spotting a young McBriar, who happened to attend an NFL-sponsored kicking tryout in Australia.
McBriar, Bennett and Colin Ridgway are three of the four Australian products to play in the NFL, and all three were punters. The fourth, Colin Scotts, a third-round pick by the Cardinals in 1987, was a defensive lineman.
Bennett hooked McBriar up with June Jones, the head coach at the University of Hawaii, and formerly of the San Diego Chargers. McBriar earned a scholarship, and along with that, a few of Hawaii's punting records, including the single game punting average of 53.2 yards in a game against Tulane in 2002.
He bounced from Denver to Seattle and eventually to Dallas, where he earned the team's starting punting job in 2004.
From there, he earned two Pro Bowl bids, becoming the second Australian player to make a Pro Bowl, behind his mentor, Bennett. In fact, his first NFL game was against Bennett in 2004, when he was with the Vikings. In 2006, he set the Cowboys' franchise record for punting average at 48.2 yards per punt.
He left Dallas after injuries as the franchise's leader in net average (38.1), average per punt (45.3) and punts inside the 20-yard line (175).
The injuries, and the lack of open punting positions combined with the amount of experienced punters available and financial considerations, likely ended his time in Philadelphia. A coaching change can be added to that mix. McBriar struggled during the 2011 season, and was placed on injured reserve with a nerve issue in his left leg. He had surgery to remove a cyst, which was believed to be causing the issue. He returned to punting in 2012, and did reasonably well last season with the Eagles - he punted 55 times in 13 games, carrying a 46.5 yard average but a 36.5 yard net, the lowest of his career.
You can forget that second "t." Steelers punter Mat McBriar doesn't need it. Efficiency, perhaps.
The last Steelers punter only had one "t" in his first name. He also had a few digits less in his "net average" over the last seven games than McBriar had in his career. Obviously, that counts a bit more. It was a move that needed to be made, and it won't take much for McBriar to improve on Zoltan Mesko's season.
The Steelers had bigger problems than just Mesko in their last seven games, but finding a replacement for him is a start.
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