Valentine Holmes. (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images)
Valentine Holmes. (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images)

Drive to survive: Valentine explodes

VALENTINE Holmes made the most of his final NFL pre-season hitout.

The former NRL star had a team-high five catches for 55 yards as the New York Jets secured a 6-0 win against the Philadelphia Eagles in an Aussie-filled contest.

Holmes' standout game included this 27-yard reception on a deep pass from quarterback Davis Webb.

It came after gains of 11 yards and four yards earlier on the drive, which led to one of only two scores in a defence-dominated encounter.

Holmes didn't have the same success in the running game, gaining a total of zero yards on five carries. He was also the intended target when Webb was intercepted late in the fourth quarter, but made the tackle on Eagles cornerback Daryl Worley.

Fellow former league player Jordan Mailata, who plays for the Eagles, was missing from the contest with a back injury but two other Australians - Eagles punter Cameron Johnston and Jets counterpart Lachlan Edwards - took part.

Johnston had eight punts at an average of 46.1 including a 67-yard beauty, and had five punts downed inside the 20. The Eagles also used Johnston to restart proceedings in the second half, having him kick a dropkick while regular kicker Jake Ellitott sat on the sideline.

The Jets-Eagles game was the fourth and final pre-season game for both teams before the start of the NFL regular season.

Johnston appears to be the only Australian of the quartet involved assured of making it on his team's 53-man regular season roster when they are named on Saturday. NFL teams will slash their pre-season rosters from about 90 to 53.

Holmes is almost certain to miss the final cut and end up on the Jets' practice squad. The former NRL speedster had been given few opportunities in the Jets' first three pre-season games.

Edwards, the Jets' punter the past three seasons, has been in a pre-season competition with American Matt Darr.

Edwards only had one opportunity - sending down a 41-yard punt - while Darr had three punts at an average of 47 yards.

Offensive tackle Jordan Mailata.
Offensive tackle Jordan Mailata.

Eagles coach Doug Pederson said on Tuesday the 203cm tall, 157kg Mailata was dealing with a "lower back" injury but dismissed it as being serious.

Mailata had a patchy off-season and there was speculation in the Philadelphia media he may not make the team's 53 but improved performances in recent pre-season games led to his stock rising.

Mailata's back injury also created speculation the Eagles might use it to place him on their injured reserve list for the regular season, to avoid them using one of their valuable 53 player slots on the inexperienced Aussie.

Johnston, one of the NFL's premier punters, has the luxury of not facing competition for his job.

 

 

News Corp Australia

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