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Browns sign punter Zastudil

Zac Jackson, Staff Writer


The Browns like players from the west side suburbs, too. Punter Dave Zastudil is the third player with Cleveland roots to sign with the Browns in the last 24 hours.

The Browns signed the Bay Village native and Ohio University graduate to a five-year contract Sunday.

Zastudil is expected to become the Browns' third punter in three years. He becomes the fourth member of the team's 2006 free agent class, joining offensive lineman LeCharles Bentley (St. Ignatius High School and Ohio State), wide receiver Joe Jurevicius (Mentor Lake Catholic High School) and offensive tackle Kevin Shaffer.

"We dove into the talent pool of Northeast Ohio again," Browns general manager Phil Savage said. "We are excited to add Dave Zastudil to the team as our punter. This addresses an obvious need for us and we believe Dave's best years are ahead of him."

The Ravens drafted Zastudil in the fourth round in 2002; he replaced Kyle Richardson as the Ravens' punter, just as he's expected to do here. Zastudil, 27, has punted in 61 of 64 possible career games, averaging 41.6 yards per punt.

His 43.5-yard average last season was a career best.

"I grew up a Cleveland Browns fan and it is really exciting for me to be able to play for the team I grew up watching and rooting for," Zastudil said. "I can't wait to get to work and be able to do my part to help the team succeed."

Zastudil missed three games in 2004 due to a shoulder injury but has been consistent and dependable otherwise. He was named to the Pro Football Weekly All-Rookie Team in 2002, set a Ravens record with a 67-yard punt in 2003, and - ironically - his 2004 punt against the Browns forced the Browns to start at their own 1-yard line, leading to the infamous Derrick Frost 7-yard punt and subsequent Ravens touchdown.

For his career, he's landed 89 punts inside the 20-yard line versus 32 touchbacks.

Zastudil was a football and baseball standout at Bay High School before heading to Ohio University, where he led the Mid-American Conference in punting four times. He graduated with a double major in finance and marketing.