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Saints sign K Gramatica, place Mare on injured reserve

| Thursday, Dec. 13, 2007

METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints signed kicker Martin Gramatica on Wednesday and placed Olindo Mare on injured reserve.

Mare, who kicks with his right foot, dislocated his right hip making a tackle late in the Saints' 34-14 triumph over Atlanta on Monday night. The injury was serious enough to keep Mare out for the rest of the season, head coach Sean Payton said.

"We don't think right yet it's going to require surgery, but it will prevent him from kicking," Payton said.

Gramatica hasn't played since last season when he was with the Dallas Cowboys for five games. He also played in three game with Indianapolis earlier in 2006.

He made seven of nine field goal attempts last season, his longest from 48 yards.

Mare came to New Orleans from Miami in an offseason trade. The Saints were looking for a kicker who could put kickoffs through the end zone and hit field goals from long range.

However, Mare struggled with his accuracy and had a minor groin pull early in the season that took him off of kickoff duties for two games.

The Saints worked out Gramatica and several other kickers during Mare's initial injury in October but decided not to make a move, confident that Mare would get better.

Mare was in excellent form before getting hurt Monday night, hitting six of seven kickoffs into the end zone and making his only two field goal attempts. His last kickoff was the only one that fell short of the goal line, and it was that return that led to his injury.

Gramatica, who considers Mare one of his good friends, has been living in Tampa with his pregnant wife and 20-month-old son. He did not see the end of Monday night's game and was surprised when the Saints called him.

"I'm glad to get an opportunity but I really feel bad for Olindo," Gramatica said. "If somebody had to take his spot I'm glad it's me, but I was hoping that he never would have gotten hurt."

Gramatica has been in the NFL since 1999, spending his first six seasons with Tampa Bay.

He has hit 144 of 188 field goal tries in his career, his longest from 55 yards.

He missed all of the 2005 season after surgery to repair tears in his abdomen.

Gramatica said he continued working out on his own this season in the hope of getting another chance. He said he expected to take over kickoff duties for the Saints, but said he does not have the power that Mare has.

"He kicks them out of the end zone all the time," Gramatica said. "That's something I can't do, but I'll try my best."

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