Foxboro, Mass.-The New England Patriots announced that they have released veteran punter Lee Johnson today. Subsequently, the team signed defensive lineman David Nugent off their practice squad to remain at 53 players on the active roster.
Johnson, 39, was in his 17th NFL season, including his third with the Patriots. The 6-foot-2-inch, 202-pound punter was signed by the Patriots as a free agent on Feb. 18, 1999. He played in 37 games and totaled 203 punts for 8,578 yards (42.3 avg.) for the Patriots in just over two years. His 42.3-yard average per punt ranks fifth in franchise history. In 17 seasons, Johnson has accumulated 1,187 career punts for 50,473 yards. Both represent NFL career punting records. He had 305 punts downed inside the 20 and 137 career touchbacks. He also had a career long 76-yard punt in the season opener at Cincinnati (9/9/01).
Nugent, 23, was originally drafted by the Patriots in the sixth round (201st overall) of the 2000 NFL draft out of Purdue. The 6-foot-4-inch, 295-pound defensive end appeared in six games as a rookie and was credited with one defensive tackle. He was waived by the Patriots on Sept. 2, 2001, but was re-signed to the practice squad on Sept. 4.