Valentine Holmes Makes Lightning Start To NFL Career
After a lengthy wait, Valentine Holmes finally got his first taste of NFL action as the New York Jets took on the New York Giants in the pre-season opener on Friday.
It was a dramatic start to the former Cronulla star's first NFL match, with play suspended late in the first quarter due to thunderstorms sweeping across New York.
Players were told to leave the field while fans were urged to take shelter inside MetLife Stadium, with a warning message lighting up the big screen.
While play was back underway within the hour, Holmes was anchored to the sidelines until 13 minutes into the fourth quarter.
The 24-year-old certainly made his mark as running back, looking impressive in his final quarter cameo as he showed off his speed and clean hands with no obvious errors.
It wasn't all smooth sailing for the debutant, who got hammered by Kenny Ladler after a 14-yard pickup with seven minutes to go.
But he shook it off and received another pass, finishing the match with three carries for six yards and three catches for 30.
Despite his good first impression, the Jets went down to the Giants 31-22.
This match was Holmes’ best chance to push his case for selection as the Jets prepare to cut their roster from 90 players to just 53 in September.
He's one of four active running backs, competing against Ty Montgomery, Elijah McGuire and Trenton Cannon.
Considered an outside chance, Friday's performance has put him in good stead with three more games in the coming weeks to prove his worth.
The former Sharks player effectively walked away from a $5 million, five-year NRL contract to pursue his NFL dream.
At the Jets he'll be paid $A181,500 per season, meaning he's taken more than an 80 percent pay cut.
But even if he doesn't make the 53-man squad next month, as a member of the NFL International Pathway program he is guaranteed a place on the Jets’ practice squad for the season.
So, he's expected to remain in the United States for some time.
Old side Cronulla isn't expecting Holmes back any time soon either, despite him sitting in the Sharks box during the side's loss to Canterbury at ANZ Stadium in late June.
"I don't believe he'll be back, he's over there for at least another 21 months, regardless of whether he makes the 53-man squad," coach John Morrison said on Friday.
"He certainly wasn't making any impression on us that he was going to be back anytime soon. He's liking the transition he's making".