Koch's status up in the air heading into season finale

Record-setting Ravens punter on reserve/COVID-19 list
Sam Koch
Posted at 4:39 PM, Dec 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-31 16:39:09-05

BALTIMORE, Md. — For 15 years Ravens punter Sam Koch has suited up on game days. He has played in a franchise record 239 consecutive games. That streak could come to an end on Sunday when the Ravens visit the Cincinnati Bengals in the season finale. Koch is on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

"We’re still assessing the situation," said Ravens Special Teams Coordinator Chris Horton. "We’re going to find out, as we move forward. We’re just going to continue to prepare for the Bengals like we normally will."

Koch produced an inconclusive test result, per ESPN, landing him on the COVID list Wednesday evening. His availability for the season finale is up in the air. If he can’t go kicker Justin Tucker would theoretically fill his role. Tucker punted in college.

"Justin does a lot of things. He’s a man of many different talents," said Horton.

Koch is also the holder on kicks.

"We have some other guys who can go out there and get it done," added Horton. "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."

The Ravens signed punter Johnny Townsend on Thursday. Townsend spent time with them during training camp.

This is not the most opportune time for a shakeup of this magnitude.

There are a number of ways the Ravens could clinch a playoff berth on Sunday. The most simple scenarios: beat the Bengals or have the Colts or Browns lose.

"We still want to win out. It don’t really matter about the teams losing and stuff like that. We want to win. That’s why we play the game and that’s just us," said quarterback Lamar Jackson.

"We control our own destiny right now. Not any other team does and it doesn’t matter who we play in the first round [of the playoffs] as long as we just take care of our business and just get ready for the first round," added linebacker Pernell McPhee.

Of course the Ravens will try to avoid a repeat of what happened against the Bengals three years ago. They lost a potential playoff-clinching game on a Cincinnati touchdown with 44-seconds to go in the 2017 season finale.

Safety Chuck Clark was part of that Ravens team. He says that contest is definitely in the back of his mind. But that game, "has no control on this one".

The Ravens also reportedly signed Jimmy Smith to a contract extension on Thursday. ESPN reports it's a one-year deal that keeps the veteran cornerback in Baltimore through next season and is worth up to $5 million.

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