Koch's show of strength

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

AFC's No. 2-ranked punter credits offseason regimen for success

Ravens Weekend

September 21, 2007|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,Sun reporter

When punter Sam Koch walked into the Ravens' special teams meeting room Wednesday, attached to the board was a printout noting he was second in the AFC in punting average.

Koch quickly took down the sheet of paper.

"I immediately took it off there because I don't want to put that in the back of my head," he said. "I could have a solid game with only inside-the-20[-yard line] punts, but that would bring down my average. So I don't really try to think about it. I just want to do what I have to do to help the team out."

Not only is his 46.2-yard average second in the AFC to the Oakland Raiders' Shane Lechler (49.0), but Koch also has been doing his part in the field-position battle, pinning opponents inside the 25-yard line on nine of his 11 punts.

Some of Koch's success stems from being injury-free. Unlike last season when he played the first five games with a pulled right quadriceps, Koch is healthy and strong.

"I did anything I could do to focus on the lower part of my body and keeping it healthy so that I wouldn't have a pulled quad like I did last year," he said. "I worked on that really hard in the offseason."

Koch's strength isn't exactly a secret inside the team's training facility in Owings Mills. The 25-year-old is 6 feet 1 and 230 pounds, and he can bench-press more than 350 pounds.

"He did a good job of training, of getting his body prepared for this season, and it's showing up," special teams coach Frank Gansz Jr. said. "You could see it in training camp. So I'm not surprised by the numbers. But it's a long season, and he's got to keep getting better. But I think he's better physically prepared this year than he was last year."

McNair mending well

Coach Brian Billick continued to sound optimistic about quarterback Steve McNair starting Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. "You'll have to ask him how he feels, but he sure looked like he felt OK," Billick said.

In other injury-related news, cornerback Samari Rolle (illness) and tight end Daniel Wilcox (ankle) did not practice yesterday.

Offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden (toe), linebacker Gary Stills (knee) and fullback Justin Green (thigh) were limited. Tight end Quinn Sypniewski (neck) and cornerback David Pittman (ankle) participated fully.

Clayton hobbled

The injury bug continues to bite Mark Clayton.

After battling a nagging hamstring that bothered him at times in his first two seasons with the Ravens, the wide receiver is suffering from a toe injury on his left foot that has prevented him from starting the team's first two games.

"It's hard," said Clayton, who also suffered a high ankle sprain in the Ravens' second preseason game, against the New York Giants. "It's a new season, and you have a lot of expectations for your team, and you just want to contribute and make plays for the team. But at the same time, you know that you're not up to your full potential. It is frustrating. I've just been patient and making sure that I take care of myself. Me taking care of myself is the best thing I can do to help my team."

Scott draws a crowd

If linebacker Bart Scott wanted to know whether his days of anonymity truly are over, all he has to do is look at his sack totals.

In two games this season, the linebacker has no sacks. By comparison, Scott had three sacks in his first two games last season.

Scott, however, didn't seem too bothered about the disparity in numbers.

"Hopefully, some more of these safeties will get some more sacks so [other teams] can quit sliding the [offensive] line to me," he said. "But that's a respect factor, and I take great pride in the new challenge that I have. I embrace it. Don't worry, I'll crack through."

Activating backup plan

Running back Mike Anderson's inactive status this past Sunday was a surprise to everyone but Anderson and Billick.

Anderson confirmed Billick's statements on his radio show Tuesday night that the team deactivated Anderson because of a lack of depth at other positions - namely at linebacker and cornerback.

"We've got a lot of injuries on the team, and we've got to compensate for the guys that are down," Anderson said, echoing Billick's comments. "And we have to carry more guys at the other positions. Being around as long as I've been around, you understand that, and that's just way it falls sometimes."

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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