Jets punter went to great lengths to avoid Thanksgiving

Lachlan Edwards had plenty of invitations to spend Thanksgiving dinner with teammates or friends. But the Jets punter wanted no part of it. He doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving. So instead of gorging on turkey and dressing, he settled for pizza and a quiet couch.

Edwards is a native of Australia, where Thanksgiving Day in America goes virtually unnoticed. Despite attending three years of college at Sam Houston State in Texas and playing in his third NFL season, Edwards still views Thanksgiving as just another day.

“I spent the time off by myself and relaxed,” Edwards said when asked how he spent his Thursday. “It was like another off day. I stayed at the house and watched TV and ate pizza.”

It was frozen pizza, at that.

“Everything is closed,” he said. “You have to make do with what you can.”

Edwards has an American girlfriend, but she lives in Austin, Texas, working as a nurse. He was just there during the Jets’ bye week. He had invites to feast with friends in New Jersey, but declined.

“I didn’t want to be that extra person,” he said. “And I do enjoy being by myself sometimes because you spend so much time with people all day. It’s good to just get away from it.”

The traditional Thanksgiving meal doesn’t appeal to him either. Australia is the land of fresh fish, Vegemite, Pavlova and meat pies.

“I’m not a huge turkey person,” Edwards said. “I like it every now and then. But I don’t really like stuffing or candied yams. It’s really not my sort of thing. I just treated it as an off day where I could catch up on some rest.”

Edwards needs the rest. He has been busy of late. After punting just once in the Jets’ 42-24 win over the Colts on Oct. 14, he has punted 29 times in the last four, all losses. His average of seven punts per game during that span is well above the league average of 4.3.

Overworking Edwards is not a good thing. It might be the only position in football at which more reps are viewed as a negative. Too many punts means the offense has been unproductive. No one cheers when the punter comes on to the field.

Edwards said he hopes he’ll be used as little as possible when the Jets play the Patriots on Sunday afternoon at Met Life Stadium. But he has developed a mentality to be ready whenever he’s needed.

“That’s the thing about kicking and punting and being a long snapper is your job never changes,” he said. “No matter whether you’re winning or losing or what’s happening on the field, you have to do your job. You focus on one kick at a time.”

Edwards has been better than steady. He’s averaging 46.3 yards per punt, which is more than the opposition’s 44. Meanwhile, opponents are averaging just 8.7 yards per return, compared to the Jets, who have averaged 15.8 yards.

Among those keeping close track of his season is his mother, Lin Edwards, who will wake up at 4:30 on Monday morning in Melbourne to watch her son on television.

“She gets up early in the morning because she doesn’t like to watch the replay,” Edwards said.

He grew up playing Australian Rules football and hoped to be drafted into the Australian Football League. It didn’t work out, and Edwards made his way to Sam Houston State, where he became the school’s all-time leader with a 42.9-yard career average. He became the first Australian punter to be drafted by an NFL team when the Jets selected him with the 235th overall pick in the seventh round in 2016.

Most of Edwards’ current teammates think his background is in rugby. He doesn’t even bother correcting them anymore.

“They all think the AFL is rugby,” he said. “I’ve been in America for nearly six years. You get tired of explaining the difference between rugby and Australian football. I don’t even talk about it anymore.”

It’s kind of like trying to explain why he doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving.

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