Pats to try out young punters after releasing Miller

Eleven-year veteran punter Josh Miller, coming off an injury-plagued 2006 season, was released on Thursday by the New England Patriots, who apparently will choose between two younger players at the position.

The departure of Miller, who immediately becomes an unrestricted free agent, leaves Danny Baugher and Tom Malone, neither of whom has ever appeared in a regular-season game, as candidates for the punting job.

Both played in NFL Europa this spring. Baugher, who is believed to have a slight edge in the competition, led the springtime league in its final year of existence. The two also spent time on the New England practice squad in 2006.

Miller, 37, spent three seasons in New England and was part of the Super Bowl XXXIX victory over Philadelphia in 2004. But he sustained a shoulder injury in 2006, which affected his drop point on punts, and he appeared in just 10 games, finishing the year on injured reserve.

New England had signed three-time Pro Bowl punter Todd Sauerbrun last year, but lost him to the Denver Broncos through free agency this past spring when an arbitrator ruled that a right-of-first-refusal clause in his contract was invalid.

It is likely that Miller will try to hook on with another team. He had become frustrated over the lack of work he was getting in camp and, in Friday's preseason opener, Baugher and Malone split the punting chores.

In 11 NFL seasons, Miller, who played eight years in Pittsburgh (1996-2003) before being released, has averaged 43.1 gross yards and 36.2 net yards on 747 punts. One of the league's top directional and hang-time punters, the left-footed Miller has had 247 kicks inside the 20-yard line and 128 touchbacks.

A former University of Arizona star, Miller has appeared in 164 NFL games.

Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com