Punter happy to help Patriots; Sauerbrun puts troubles behind.


Byline: Jennifer Toland FOXBORO - New Patriots punter Todd Sauerbrun admits he made a mistake by taking the banned dietary supplement ephedra, but thinks he got punished "beyond belief" for his transgression. The Broncos cut Sauerbrun, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, in October after he had served a league-mandated four-game suspension for testing positive for ephedra. Sauerbrun, New England's third different punter this season, had been out of work until the Patriots signed him last Friday, two days before their game in Jacksonville. "Taking ephedra, I took it," Sauerbrun said yesterday, speaking to the New England media for the first time since his arrival here. "It's not steroids, it has nothing to do with that and it's just an unfortunate thing. I personally don't believe it should be banned. But it is what it is. I made that choice. I made that mistake and I paid my penance for it and I've been punished more than enough. I'm ready to get on with things." Sauerbrun replaced Ken Walter, who replaced Josh Miller. Both Walter's and Miller's seasons ended because of injuries. Sauerbrun, who turns 34 next week, is a 12-year NFL veteran and entered the 2006 season with the fifth-highest gross punting average (44 yards) in NFL history. His leg strength has never been a concern. Other off-field issues have, making this a not-so-typical Patriots signing. Sauerbrun, who played for Carolina from 2001-04, was named in a March 2005 CBS "60 Minutes Wednesday" report as one of three Panthers players who filled prescriptions for banned steroids less than two weeks before Super Bowl XXXVIII. "It's all allegations," Sauerbrun said. "Nothing's proven. They tested me. We passed all the tests and they've got nothing on me." Sauerbrun was also arrested for drunken driving in December 2004 and got into a pretty well publicized squabble with the Panthers during the '04 season when the team asked him to place kick. Sauerbrun reportedly refused to kick unless he was reimbursed for fines he incurred when he was overweight. "Absolutely not, absolutely not," Sauerbrun said. "They were fining me because I was like two pounds overweight and it was coming out to a couple thousand dollars a week, and then on top of that they were like, `Do you want to kick field goals?' Can you not fine me every week for being two pounds overweight? What kind of tradeoff is that? The...

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