NFL: Kiwi Paul Lasike 'blessed' to make Bears

Lasike is a former high school rugby player at Westlake and Church College. Photo / Photosport
Lasike is a former high school rugby player at Westlake and Church College. Photo / Photosport

After a great pre-season, Kiwi Paul Lasike, 26, has made the Chicago Bears' final roster for the 2016 NFL season.

The Bears confirmed Lasike had secured a spot on their 53-man roster,.

Lasike, a former high school rugby player at Westlake and Church College, was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Arizona Cardinals in 2015 but failed to survive the final selection process.

He cemented his spot as the Bears' fullback with a standout performance in a pre-season game against the Cleveland Browns last week.

Lasike joins Kiwi tight end Rhett Ellison, son of former NFL player and Super Bowl winner Riki Ellison, in the big league.

Ellison, 27, has established himself with the Minnesota Vikings.

Lasike posted a one-word tweet on Twitter yesterday: "Blessed."

It was a mixed day for Australians in the NFL, though, with offensive lineman David Yankey cut by the Carolina Panthers and defensive end Adam Gotsis making the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos.

The Panthers announced yesterday they had released Yankey, a 1.98m tall, 141kg Sydney-born guard.

It came just days after the San Francisco 49ers cut another Australian offensive lineman, Blake Muir.

NFL teams had to reduce their squads from 75 to 53 yesterday, ahead of this week's opening of the regular season.

Yankey's release spoils an Aussie against Aussie match-up in Friday's Super Bowl repeat to start the season between Gotsis' champion Broncos against the runner-up Panthers.

Australia will still be well represented in the NFL this season with Gotsis and punters Brad Wing (New York Giants), Jordan Berry (Pittsburgh Steelers) and Lachlan Edwards (New York Jets).

Gotsis, a 1.95m tall, 127kg rookie defensive end, is a rising star in the NFL, surviving the weekend's cuts to cement a place in the Broncos, who were ranked the No1 defensive team in the NFL last year.

Another Panther player cut yesterday and well known to Australian sports fans was Eric Wallace, an American who made the jump from US college basketball to the AFL in 2012, where he was signed by North Melbourne.

Wallace was attempting to make the Panthers as a tight end.

A year ago, Australia's main focus at the 53-man roster deadline was NRL convert Jarryd Hayne, who made the San Francisco 49ers.

Hayne, who quit the 49ers in the off-season in a failed attempt to make the Fiji rugby sevens team for the Rio Olympics, before returning to the NRL with the Gold Coast Titans, may have made the NFL team again.

Hayne's biggest rival at the 49ers for punt and kick return, Bruce Ellington, was ruled out for the season earlier this week with a torn hamstring.

- AAP

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