By Paul Newberry
FLOWERY BRANCH - Morten Andersen has got this down pat. Sit out training camp. Watch the first two games on television while sipping on some nice, cold brews. Then report to the Atlanta Falcons armed with plenty of old-man jokes.
"It's Yogi Berra," Andersen quipped. "It's deja vu all over again."
For the second year in a row, the Falcons sent out a belated call to Andersen to rescue their sorry kicking game. He was more than happy to help out, since this puts the 47-year-old freak of nature another season closer to his ultimate goal: playing until he's 50 and passing George Blanda as the oldest player in NFL history.
"This is what I was meant to be doing," Andersen said. "This is my calling."
He's already the leading scorer in NFL history, an ambition fulfilled last season after he was called in by the Falcons to replace Michael Koenen, who missed six of eight field goal attempts in the first two games.
This time, it was another untested kicker who flopped.
Looking for someone with a stronger leg who might be around a few years, the Falcons decided to go with 23-year-old Matt Prater, even though he had never kicked in the NFL and only joined the team before its final preseason game.
The lack of experience showed when Prater made one of four attempts in the first two games, his fate sealed when he shanked a 26-yarder against the Jacksonville Jaguars last Sunday. It didn't take long for the Falcons (0-2) to dig up Andersen's number.
"I was just sitting on the couch with some of my neighbors Sunday evening, having a couple of cold ones," he said. "The next thing I know, my phone rang. It was personnel asking, 'Can you come in tomorrow?'
Andersen ran through a quick tryout at the Falcons' complex on Monday afternoon and agreed to a contract by that evening. He joins a team that was rocked by the Michael Vick dogfighting saga and has scored only 10 points heading into Sunday's home opener against Carolina (1-1).
This is Andersen's third stint with Atlanta. He is best remembered for making the kick that sent the Falcons to their lone Super Bowl during the 1998 season, but his career appeared over - just 77 points shy of career scoring leader Gary Anderson - when no one called heading into 2005.