STEELERS – FRIDAY
PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t officially release their final cuts to reach the 53-man roster limit by the Saturday deadline, but a handful of players were noticeably absent Friday afternoon.
The Steelers made one move, though, as punter Brad Wing was traded to the New York Giants for a conditional seventh-round pick next year. Wing, who punted in all 16 games last season, was beaten out by fellow Australian Jordan Berry, a first-year player from Eastern Kentucky.
“We’ve been here together the last 4-5 months, spending every day with each other,” Berry said Friday. “So, we had a pretty good working relationship. He’s also a pretty good bloke, so he’s great to hang out with. … I’m glad he landed somewhere else, but I’m obviously happy that I won the job.”
Kicking at usually tough Heinz Field Thursday night, Berry sealed the job by booming five kicks for a 50.6-yard average with one inside the 20. Wing’s only punt went for 46 yards, but Berry’s distance was somewhat better overall. And his hang time was considerably better.
“I had him a little bit on that after camp, too, but we obviously both did really well,” Berry said. “And Brad’s a great competitor and a good guy. So, it’s disappointing that he had to get cut, but that’s the way the system’s set up.”
Berry didn’t even get a tryout after his college career ended, so he spent last year back home in Australia with his family, working out and kicking “American” footballs in an attempt to be ready when he could afford another trip here. Berry’s father was his biggest supporter, literally and figuratively, last year.
“When I first thought about playing American football, he was very supportive, along with the rest of my family,” Berry said. “They really pushed me along, especially last year when I finished college and didn’t even get a tryout coming out. … They supported me for those eight months, they made sure I had a place to stay and work, so I could save up some money to come back and give it another shot. It was good just to give him a call to say that I made it.”
Berry said he applied for about 300 jobs online, and McDonald’s was the first to respond. He worked there one month before getting a position with a public transport group in Victoria in Southeast Australia. Berry made about 10,000 Australian dollars, which translated to about $9,000 American back then and $7,000 now. Still, that was enough to help him purchase American footballs online after the ones he brought home with him wore out and eventually return to America for NFL tryouts. But his work isn’t finished just yet.
“We definitely put a lot of work in last week when Josh (PK Scobee) came in,” Berry said. “We spent a whole day working with the snap and getting the ball down just the way Josh likes it. Me and Brad traded off, so we both got a lot of work in. And having another week to hone that in and get everything perfect, just the way he likes it, we’ll probably spend a lot of time on that this week.”
Another player who likely earned a roster spot after his performance against the Panthers was fullback Roosevelt Nix. He blocked a punt and caught a pass and generally has displayed solid blocking skills from the backfield. But was it enough to supplant incumbent Will Johnson?
“I still haven’t had any word, but I’m still here and that’s Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"