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Vikings Punter Jordan Berry Describes Flight Path from Australia to NFL

EAGAN, Minn. — Monday's podium sessions involving Vikings players featured an air of improbability.

Once-upon-a-time-tryout-basis receiver Adam Thielen stood excited to pick up where he left off with a 14-touchdown season in 2020 for his home-state team.

Former undrafted free agent (originally with his hometown Jacksonville Jaguars) Rashod Hill towered over the microphone and explained what it means to him to start at left tackle on Sunday in Cincinnati. After starting eight games in 2018, Hill has opened one in each of the past two seasons.

New Vikings punter Jordan Berry's journey to the NFL might have a leg up on either of those underdog stories.

A native of Melbourne, Australia, Berry wanted to play Australian Rules Football, "but I just didn't quite have the running endurance to keep up with that top tier for that sport."

Punting on that dream led him to, um, punting in American football.

As Berry said, "I always had a big kick, so I gave American football a look, and it worked out pretty well."

Berry received an offer to play collegiately at Eastern Kentucky in 2009. He drew inspiration from Australians Ben Graham (Jets, Saints, Cardinals and Lions from 2005-12) and Sav Rocca (Philadelphia and Washington 2007-13), both of whom played multiple seasons in the NFL.

"So watching those guys and seeing some American football on TV, I thought it'd be a good path," Berry said.

View photos of Vikings P Jordan Berry who recently joined the team.

Berry joined the Colonels and redshirted in 2009 before earning placement on the 2010 OVC All-Newcomer Team and a selection toe the All-OVC Second Team. He followed by making the conference's first team in 2011 after averaging 41.0 yards per punt, which ranked second in the OVC and 25th nationally.

Berry led the OVC in 2012 with 19 punts downed inside the 20-yard-line. He boosted that total to 28 in 2013 when he recorded 18 punts of at least 50 yards and averaged 43.4 per boot on 60 punts.

In 2015, Berry made it to the NFL, playing all 16 games for the Pittsburgh Steelers. His rookie season included a 79-yard punt. Berry appeared in 91 regular-season games for Pittsburgh and averaged 44.4 yards per punt.

The Steelers released him last week, and the Vikings invited him for a tryout. Minnesota then opted to release Britton Colquitt after two seasons and sign Berry, the team's first punter from Australia since Darren Bennett (2004-05) capped his 11-season career after playing for the Chargers from 1995-2003.

Berry, who was born in 1991, had not yet turned his attention toward American football, but he later connected with Bennett for a workout.

"He's a really good guy; he's done a lot of great things for guys trying to come across to America and make it in American football," Berry said. "I think it was maybe 2015, early in the year, I went down to San Diego and worked out with him a bit. Really good dude."

The addition of Berry marks the third time the Vikings have switched punters since the start of the 2018 season. Minnesota signed Matt Wile in 2018 after he was released by Pittsburgh and added Colquitt in similar fashion the following year after he was released by Cleveland. Colquitt's contributions included solid holds for field goals and extra points.

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said Monday that Berry's combination of leg strength and experience were the reasons for the change.

"Just trying to get a little bit more hang time and distance," Zimmer said.

Berry said he began working on his holds before coming to America, and he gained even more experience in college.

"I think at one point we had five kickers and I was the only holder, so just sitting there all day and holding, and that's really where I got most of my skill from is just reps all day every day in college," Berry said. "And apart from that it's really just looking at the finer details, getting some video out and making sure I'm doing the right thing up close."

Now Berry will quickly try to connect with veteran long snapper Andrew DePaola, whom Berry already complimented for consistency of snaps, and kicker Greg Joseph, who was born in South Africa but grew up in Florida. Joseph last kicked a field goal in a regular-season game in 2018 with Cleveland.

"Probably the biggest one is going to be … making sure that Greg gets the ball where he wants and nice and tidy snaps and just working out the routine and timing and cadence, but for the most part it's going to be pretty similar," Berry said.