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NY Jets Spotlight: Lachlan Edwards

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Will special teams be decisive in tonight's game against the Bills?

Larry French/Getty Images

Welcome to the Jets Spotlight.   Here we spotlight one key player for each game of the season, hopefully putting a different player in the spotlight each week. Today's player in the spotlight is rookie punter Lachlan Edwards.  Edwards is a 24 year old, 6' 4", 210 pound punter out of Sam Houston State University.  He was drafted by the New York Jets in the seventh round as the 235th overall selection of the 2016 NFL draft.

Edwards is a native of Australia who grew up playing Australian rules football.  Edwards told reporters after he was drafted by the Jets he had never punted a football before December 2012.  He was kicking a ball around at a local park with some friends, when his life changed forever.

"One of my professors from Ballarat University – the university I attended at the time – drove by and saw me punt," Edwards said. "He stopped, parked his car and asked if I played. He put me in touch with a kicking coach in Australia, and it just took off from there."

Edwards would then travel across the Pacific and attend Sam Houston State for three years and graduate as an  All-America third team punter.  At Sam Houston State Edwards never had a punt blocked in 185 career punts.

In the 2016 offseason the Jets cut ties with former punter Ryan Quigley, leaving the roster without a punter.  If unrectified, that situation might have resulted in a lot of fumbles when the long snapper snapped the ball to an empty backfield, so the need for a new punter was somewhat urgent.  The Jets drafted Lachlan Edwards in the 7th round of the 2016 NFL draft and signed another Australian punter, Tom Hackett, as an undrafted free agent.  Edwards won the battle of the Aussies with his booming punts and became the Jets' new punter.  Fumble crisis averted.  In his first game in the NFL Edwards punted for an excellent 51.3 yard gross average and a 44.3 yard net average.

Lachlan Edwards is a rookie so he has only one game of NFL statistics, but here are his college statistics.  His college career yielded a surprisingly low yards per punt figure considering his big leg.

Year

Yards Per Punt

Long

.

2013

42.3

70

2014

44.1

59

2015

41.5

62

The game against the Bills tonight features a ferocious Jets defensive line matched against a Bills offense with several key parts sidelined or hobbled.  On the other side of the ball Rex Ryan has traditionally done a good job limiting Ryan Fitzpatrick's effectiveness.  This game shapes up as a potential defensive struggle, with field position being crucial and special teams possibly being a deciding factor. Of course, given that analysis, the unpredictable world of the NFL will probably deliver a 35-31 shootout.

If, however, a low scoring defensive struggle does materialize, Lachlan Edwards will likely be front and center in a glorious punt-a-palooza.  Over the years the Jets have struggled to find a punter whose big leg could consistently pin opponents deep in their own territory.  Edwards' booming Australian leg just might fit the bill.  And the Bills.

Punters are rarely in the spotlight.  It's just not a glamorous position, and by its nature the position rarely is seen as being decisive in a victory.  Nonetheless, this game could prove to be an exception.  If we end up with a defensive struggle, Edwards' big leg just might provide the consistent advantage in field position necessary to squeak out a win.

Welcome to the NFL Lachlan Edwards.  The spotlight's on you tonight.  May you shine under the lights of Thursday Night Football.