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With Sam Koch on reserve/COVID-19 list, Ravens sign punter Johnny Townsend

The Ravens have signed punter Johnny Townsend, the team announced Thursday, giving them a fall-back option for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Starter Sam Koch was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday after an inconclusive test and has not practiced this week. He hasn’t missed a game since the Ravens drafted him in 2006, a franchise-record streak of 239 straight games. In 15 games this season, Koch has a net punting average of 42.5 yards, his best mark since 2015.

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Special teams coordinator Chris Horton said before practice Thursday that the Ravens were “still assessing the situation,” indicating uncertainty about Koch’s availability for a crucial Week 17 game.

Townsend spent over a week with the Ravens in training camp this summer and signed with the Chiefs’ practice squad in mid-November. Because he has remained in the NFL’s coronavirus testing protocols, he is expected to be eligible to play Sunday.

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Kicker Justin Tucker, who also punted at Texas, was considered an option to replace Koch, and Horton called him a “man of many different talents.” But the Ravens’ most pressing concern before Sunday might be finding a capable holder for the field-goal unit, a job at which Koch has excelled. Tight end Mark Andrews got some practice repetitions in training camp, and Horton said the Ravens have tried players “all over the place” this season.

“You never know given the circumstances of 2020 [and] everything that’s going on,” he said. “It’s no different than how many other guys are taking reps as a punt returner. We’ve got to get as many guys ready for any given situation. So we have some other guys that can go out there and get it done. Are they Sam Koch? Heck, no. Nobody in this league is Sam Koch. Sam is one of a kind. He’s the best at what he does.”

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