Veteran punter Araguz signs with Ravens

He holds record for most punts in a game, but has punted just 42 times since 2000

Ravens

April 14, 2006|By BILL ORDINE | BILL ORDINE,SUN REPORTER

The Ravens signed a veteran punter yesterday who has played sparingly during the past six seasons but once set a record for most punts in a game and is at least familiar to special teams coordinator Frank Gansz Jr.

Leo Araguz, 36, who has punted just 42 times since 2000, signed a one-year contract; financial terms were not disclosed. The Ravens were faced with replacing punter Dave Zastudil, who last month signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Cleveland Browns.

Araguz, 5 feet 11, 190 pounds, entered the NFL in 1996 as a free agent from Stephen F. Austin with the Oakland Raiders, where he was coached by Gansz during the 1998 and 1999 seasons.

On Oct. 11, 1998, he set an NFL record with 16 punts in a 7-6 victory over the San Diego Chargers while reportedly suffering through back spasms. He averaged more than 44 yards a kick and one sailed 61 yards during his record-setting performance.

"Leo has been a very solid punter in the league for a number of years, and I like the experience he can bring to this team," Gansz said in a statement. "In addition to that, he is a steady and consistent holder."

Gansz also indicated that the Ravens could still draft or sign another punter, according to a team spokesman.

Araguz could not be reached. His agent, Jordan Woy, said in an e-mail: "[The Ravens] are excited and so is he. It should be a great opportunity for him."

Araguz played most recently with the Seattle Seahawks at the beginning of last season. After Araguz won a training camp duel with Chris Klue for the punting job, his numbers slid steadily over the first four regular-season games. His average dropped from 46 yards in the opener to 33 in the game before he was waived. He was replaced by veteran Tom Rouen.

In Oakland, Araguz had his best season in 1997 when he had a 45-yard average, 39.1 net, with 28 of 93 punts placed inside the 20. In 1998, his average was 43.4 yards, 33.4 net, and in 1999, it was 40.1 yards, 32.3 net. After he was released by the Raiders in 2000, he played with the Detroit Lions (2001-2002) and Minnesota Vikings (2003-2004), stops where he made just a handful of punts.

bill.ordine@baltsun.com

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