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Morten Andersen, 46, rejoins Falcons

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (Sept. 19, 2006) -- Forty-six-year-old Morten Andersen is returning to the Atlanta Falcons after Michael Koenen flopped badly in his attempt to do all the kicking.

Andersen, the second-leading scorer in NFL history, returns to the league after last kicking with Minnesota in 2004. He will handle extra points and all field goal attempts -- except those well beyond 50 yards.

"In my heart, I knew I could still play," Andersen said.

George Blanda is the only player older than Andersen to play in the NFL. He retired after the 1975 season at age 48.

"Morten Andersen is one of the finest field-goal kickers in the history of the National Football League," Falcons coach Jim Mora said. "His outstanding career speaks for itself, and we are excited to have him rejoin our organization."

Koenen, who made only 2 of 8 field-goal attempts in Atlanta's first two games, will continue to handle the kickoff and punting duties. A change was expected after he missed four field goals -- all from 40 yards and in -- in a 14-3 victory against Tampa Bay on Sept. 17.

Andersen is the leading scorer in Atlanta history and kicked the team's most famous field goal, a 38-yarder in overtime to beat the Vikings in the 1998 NFC Championship Game. He played with the Falcons from 1995-2000.

Coincidentally, Andersen returns to the Falcons (2-0) as they prepare to face New Orleans on Sept. 25. He played with the Saints from 1982-94 and now gets to face them as they return to the Superdome for the first time since Hurricane Katrina.

"It's been a test of endurance for me over the last year-and-a-half since I last played for the Minnesota Vikings," Andersen said. "In my heart, I knew I could still play. I'm really excited to be back in the NFL, especially playing the Saints this week because of the significance of this game for the city of New Orleans and the people of Louisiana."

Andersen, an eight-time Pro Bowl selection, has 2,358 points in his 23-year career. Returning to the Falcons might give him a chance to make a run at the only guy ahead of him on the list -- kicker Gary Anderson at 2,434.

While the current Atlanta coaches weren't around when Andersen last kicked for the Falcons, he had a private workout in Flowery Branch over the summer.

"I'm coming to a great organization with a lot of outstanding players and coaches," he said. "I plan on helping them continue to build on the success they've already had this season and also help out Michael in any way I can."

Koenen is likely to continue handling any attempts that are beyond Andersen's reduced range, just as he did last year when the Falcons had kicker Todd Peterson.

AP NEWS
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