Ravens punter Sam Koch viewed his Pro Bowl selection as a team award. So after he found out Tuesday that he was chosen to play in the All-Star game on Jan. 31 in Honolulu, Hawaii, for the first time in his 10-year career, the Ravens punter invited several of his teammates to go along with him.
Koch, who was selected along with right guard Marshal Yanda, told the core members of the Ravens punt team that he would pay for their flights to Hawaii.
"I'm offering to pay for all the flights for at least the guys that have been up there for much of the games this year," Koch said. "If they'd rather take that, or if they'd rather take a gift or a flight voucher, I'll get that for them, too.
"We've got a great group of guys up there up front. Quite honestly, we wouldn't be where we're at if it wasn't for [special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg] and Morgan Cox, Anthony Levine, all those guys up front. Those guys are the ones who got us into this situation."
Ravens coach John Harbaugh informed Koch, who currently leads the NFL with a 44.0-yard net punting average, that he made the team following the conclusion of Tuesday's practice. The announcement was greeted enthusiastically by Koch's teammates who believe that the punter has been snubbed from the Pro Bowl in previous seasons.
"Well deserved and I'd say way overdue," Harbaugh said of Koch's selection. "I'm just happy for Sam. Sam was really happy. When you have the kind of career that he's had, for it to be validated with a Pro Bowl selection is really meaningful, especially when it's eluded him the last few years, and I'd say unjustifiably so. It's perfectly deserved."
Fullback Kyle Juszczyk, one of the core members of the punt team, said that he was planning to turn down Koch's offer, but he was thrilled that his teammate was recognized.
"The first time I go to Hawaii, I want it to be because I earned it myself. I'm going to pass this year, but it's so appreciated," Juszczyk said. "He doesn't have to do that and I'm sure not every punter gets gifts or offers trips to his protection team. It just says a lot about the guy. I don't know if there's anyone in the special teams unit that deserves it more than Sam. Sam is doing things that nobody else in the league is doing. The numbers speak for themselves."
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Motivation for Williams
If there was one Raven that had a legitimate gripe that he was snubbed from the Pro Bowl team, it was nose tackle Brandon Williams. However, the third-year player offered little more than a shrug when he was asked if he was disappointed not to even be selected as an alternate.
"I can't control any of that," Williams said. "I'm just going to control what I can control, and that's helping my team right now. That's all that matters."
Williams, who has 47 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble, has been the Ravens' most consistent defensive player. He did say that he would be motivated by the perceived snub.
"Obviously, you want to prove that you're one of the best and you want to go [to Hawaii]," Williams said. "But as of right now, I'm worried about the Steelers."
Wide receiver Marlon Brown (back), right tackle Rick Wagner (knee), linebacker Albert McClellan (ankle) and cornerback Jimmy Smith (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday. … The Ravens signed defensive back Jermaine Whitehead off the San Francisco 49ers practice squad, and added him to their active roster. The undrafted rookie out of Auburn takes the roster spot of tight end Richard Gordon, who was waived. … The Ravens signed running back Alonzo Harris to their practice squad. Harris, an undrafted rookie out of Louisiana-Lafayette, was cut by the Green Bay Packers earlier this season after he and fellow running back Eddie Lacy missed curfew. … Injured Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. will be part of CBS' NFL Today pregame show Sunday. … The Tennessee Titans signed former Ravens quarterback Bryn Renner to their practice squad.