Sports Outside the Beltway

Patriots Sign Todd Sauerbrun

The New England Patriots have signed the best punter steroids can produce, Todd Sauerbrun.

Christmas may have come early for the New England Patriots, who on Friday solved their season-long punting problem by signing veteran free agent Todd Sauerbrun, a three-time Pro Bowl performer.

Details of the contract were not yet available but Sauerbrun, released earlier this season by the Denver Broncos, will be the Patriots’ punter for their Christmas Eve game at Jacksonville. The 12-year veteran auditioned for New England coaches and personnel officials earlier this week.

New England was left without a veteran punter when Ken Walter was forced onto injured reserve this week by a foot injury. Walter last month replaced Josh Miller, who began the season as the Patriots’ punter but suffered a shoulder injury that prematurely ended his season. The Patriots had two young punters, Tom Malone and Danny Baugher, on their practice squad, and there was some feeling that one of them might be elevated to the active roster. But the Pats worked out veteran Sean Landeta on Monday, then brought in Sauerbrun, clearly the best punter available, for an audition.

Sauerbrun, 33, has appeared in 162 games and is one of the NFL’s premier punters over the past decade. But the former West Virginia University standout has suffered in the past from what have been perceived as attitude problems. Then, this summer, he was suspended by the league for four games for a violation of the NFL steroids and related substances policy.

Sauerbrun was indeed the logical choice, although Landeta was intriguing. Still, it’s interesting that the NFL lets guys like him and Chargers lineman Shawne Merriman away with a slap on the wrist after cheating. You can’t blame the Pats or Chargers for taking advantage of the rules, though.

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