Get to know Johnny Townsend, Raiders’ replacement for Marquette King

ALAMEDA — Giorgio Tavecchio refers to Johnny Townsend as “Captain America.”

“Nice kid, good-looking dude, can do a little bit of everything,” the Raiders’ kicker said Wednesday.

“I don’t know if I can identify with Captain America, but I’ll take the compliment from Giorgio,” Townsend later said with a smile.

Townsend has been thrust into what some might view as an awkward situation. He’s not only the Raiders’ new punter, but the holder for a kicking competition between Tavecchio and Eddy Piñeiro, Townsend’s close friend and teammate at Florida. On top of trying to stay neutral while the kickers battle, Townsend has been tasked with holding for both a right-footer and a lefty, which may be more difficult than it sounds.

He’s handled it all in stride, and the Raiders think they found something in their 2018 fifth-round pick, both as a holder and punter.

“He’s big, physical guy … really athletic,” special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia said. “We feel like there’s a lot of natural ability there that certainly we’re willing to work with.”

Get Raiders news in your inbox. Sign up now for the free Raiders HQ newsletter.

Townsend’s 46.2 yards per punt average ranks first in SEC history, so he might just fit the bill of Marquette King’s replacement. King ranked sixth in the league last season with 47.4 yards per punt, but the Raiders released him earlier this offseason and he signed with the division rival Broncos.

Townsend’s offseason highlight may have come Tuesday, when he boomed a punt from the 30-yard line that bounced out of bounds inside the 1-yard line on the opposite end. Bisaccia has spoken highly of Townsend’s directional punting since it factors significantly in his scheme, and the rookie explained how he’s cultivated the skill.

“My special teams coaches at Florida put so much emphasis on it. We have so many scary returners at the SEC level. We had to find ways to shrink the field, get the ball to the sidelines, limit the opportunities for returners,” Townsend said. “That was something I worked on day-in and day-out. I knew the pressure of the situations I was going to be in and how much of a role I could have with the team if I could do that, by limiting the returns of the opponents. As my career went on, I developed in that way. I want to take my game in the NFL the same way I did in college.”

Jon Gruden has stressed the need for a sound holder on special teams as much as anything, and Bisaccia was worried Townsend might struggle holding for both a righty and lefty. The special teams coach credited Townsend’s quick learning in that regard to his background as a baseball catcher since the squatting positions look alike and hand-eye coordination is involved in both, a notion Townsend agreed with.

“Johnny has been outstanding holding for both. I’ve never really had that before. I haven’t had a lefty and a righty before in a camp, so he’s been outstanding,” Bisaccia …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports


(Visited 6 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *