Punting Battle: Chris Bryan

The success or failure of Bryan's move from Australia could be determined in the preseason finale on Thursday night at Kansas City. He won't be nervous for this make-or-break game, though — not with big-game experience back home.

In a one-on-one battle in which every punt could be his last, Chris Bryan smiles when asked if he's ever felt nervous.

Sure, the import from Australia is a novice when it comes to punting in the NFL, but the veteran of Australian Rules Football recalls playing a game in front of 98,000 people on a national holiday back home.

"No, to be honest with you," Bryan said when asked whether he battles nerves with every kick in his battle against Tim Masthay. "I always say I don't get nervous, I get excited. The adrenaline's pumping through you and you're excited to get out there and do what you've trained to do and perform well. The excitement — I love doing it, I love playing football, I've played a few games and i love being out there playing."

Considering his lack of experience, Bryan has been remarkably competitive against one of the top prospects of the 2009 draft. Bryan, who worked for about a year with fellow Aussie Nathan Chapman — who competed against B.J. Sander for the Packers' punting job in 2004 — has actually outperformed the three punters who were drafted this year.

With a 44.0-yard average on six preseason punts, his talent is obvious. He can kick the ball with distance and hang time, and his pooch-punting and directional ability haven't been overstated. The consistency, however, has been lacking at times, as evidenced by two low kicks that he was fortunate were not returned last week against Indianapolis.

"It wasn't a great game for myself," he said, blaming it on a couple of poor drops. "I didn't think I punted that well, but I had a net of 38.5. Talked with the coach and he said last year that would have been 13th in the league for net punt. So, numbers-wise, it's not too bad, but for me personally, I know I can punt the ball a lot better than that. So, I think it's a good thing, I come out of the game with results that are OK but plenty of improvement there, too."

With Masthay posting slightly better numbers, boasting more experience and having more success as the holder for kicker Mason Crosby, Bryan will need a strong performance against Kansas City to win the job or to catch the eyes of another team.

"I'm here to take the job, so anything less than that, I'm going to be disappointed," Bryan said. "I've come all this way, it's been a two-year process, yeah, this is the final week of training camp, but this is the last week before I officially become an NFL punter and who knows what happens from there."

Bryan, who impressed several teams with his YouTube practice videos, was signed by the Packers in March. He spent the first three months living with his wife, Lauren, and 1-year-old son, C-Jay, at a hotel before moving into an apartment during the break between minicamp and training camp. Bryan and Lauren added another child to the family on Tuesday, keeping him out of practice. Out of respect for Bryan's privacy, the Packers would not comment on whether it was a boy or girl or whether Bryan made the trek to Kansas City.

"We go to the park and he's running around now," Bryan said of what he does during his free time. "He loves it when I get home from practice and he runs to me down the hallway. I just enjoy that time. Being here so much and then you get your time with your son, I really enjoy that."

The kids certainly don't realize the sacrifices that have been made for Bryan to chase this dream. To uproot everything and move an entire hemisphere and not win the job — or earn a shot elsewhere — would be a terrible disappointment.

"I haven't thought about that at all," he said. "In my mind, my full intention is I'm here to make the team. So, my focus is on this week, but then obviously becoming an NFL punter and playing the week after that and helping out the team."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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