Jarryd Hayne, Jesse Williams, three other Australians and a Kiwi got early good news but face some more nervous days as their NFL clubs decide whether to keep or cut them.
The final week of the NFL pre-season is a cut-throat time, with team management tapping players on the shoulder and sending them on the way.
The clubs needed to reduce their rosters to 75 by Tuesday (Wednesday AEST) and then to a final 53 by Saturday (Sunday AEST).
Hayne, the former rugby league star, survived the first round of roster reductions at the San Francisco 49ers as expected.
Williams the 191cm tall, 148kg Brisbane defensive tackle, who had a cancerous kidney removed just three months ago, continued his miraculous recovery by dodging the Seattle Seahawks’ initial 10-man cuts.
Another Australian giant, 198cm, 145kg offensive tackle David Yankey, appears set to remain with the Minnesota Vikings after he wasn’t included among 11 players released.
Duelling Australian punters Brad Wing and Jordan Berry also remain on the Pittsburgh Steelers roster, although one will be gone by the end of the week.
The competition hasn’t hurt their friendship.
“You’d always rather be in competition with someone like that, who’s going to push you,” Wing told the Beaver County Times.
“(We) Want to make sure that there’s as many of us (Australians) in the NFL as there can be,” Berry added.
New Zealand running back Paul Lasike’s NFL dreams remain in reach, with the Arizona Cardinals keeping the 25-year-old while axing 11 players.
However Geelong-raised Dallas Cowboys punter Tom Hornsey, US college football’s top punter for 2013 after starring with the University of Memphis, was cut on Monday after competing with incumbent Chris Jones for the job.
It was no a surprise Hayne that was not among the 10 players axed by the 49ers after he dazzled coaches, fans and US media in three pre-season games in recent weeks.
The 49ers cuts did offer a lesson to the former NRL star though, with a fellow project player, British Olympic discus thrower Lawrence Okoye, waived.
Hayne is expected to make the final 53 roster, although Wednesday’s final pre-season game against the San Diego Chargers could decide his fate.
The 49ers play their NFL regular season opener against the Minnesota Vikings on September 14.
The team have multiple options at Hayne’s running back and punt return positions.
Tomsula described Bruce Ellington, the team’s punt returner last season, as “very quick” and “explosive” after he shrugged off injury to play against the Denver Broncos on Saturday.
Ellington says he’s determined to keep others from taking his job.
“I’m going to go out here this week and prove to the coaches that they can trust me and I can be out there making plays,” Ellington told reporters.