Sam Koch close to setting NFL record

December 30, 2010|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

Sam Koch is close to setting an NFL record, but if the Ravens punter had his wish, he'd rather avoid the mark on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Koch needs just five more punts inside Cincinnati's 20-yard line to tie the league single-season record of 42 shared by the Arizona Cardinals' Ben Graham (2009) and the San Francisco 49ers' Andy Lee (2007).

But if Koch is punting, that means the offense isn't scoring, and that's a scenario that Koch said he'd rather see not develop.

"That would be great, but then again, it depends on if our offense gets into those situations, and I'd rather see them score than to punt," he said. "That's going to be something where if I get the chance, I'd definitely like to get it, but it kind of depends on how we do."

Koch has exceeded his previous career high of 34 punts inside the 20 in 2008 by developing a rugby kick, a shorter punt that — upon contact with the turf — tends to spin the ball back away from the end zone and allows his teammates to down the ball.

"The thing I think this year that's probably even better than a year ago is, he's now able to move that ball up and down the yard lines, where if it's a ball that's inside the 40, he adjusts the kick," special teams coordinator and assistant head coach Jerry Rosburg said two weeks ago. "If the ball is at the 50-yard line, he adjusts the kick. So he's now developed a little wider range than he did his first year, and I think that's really serving him well."

Koch continues to add to his resume as one of the most successful punters in team history. Already the franchise leader in punts inside the 20 (147), the sixth-round selection in 2006 has a 43.7-yard average and a 38.1-yard net average that rank first in Ravens history.

But Koch was passed over for what would have been his first Pro Bowl as the Oakland Raiders' Shane Lechler was voted to represent the AFC. Koch is playing out a one-year tender that pays him $1.7 million but makes no guarantees about his future with the Ravens.

"We're going to have to do something," Koch acknowledged. "I don't know. I hope I have [done enough to warrant a new deal]. I feel like I've tried to add enough to the team, and I would love to stay here in Baltimore just because I love this place and I love the coaches and everything and the players. So we'll see what happens this offseason, but I would love to be here."

No practice for E. Reed

Seven-time Pro Bowl free safety Ed Reed did not practice Thursday due to a neck injury. It's unclear whether it's the same nerve impingement that has affected his ability to tackle in the previous two seasons, but Reed was not listed on the team's first injury report released Wednesday.

Linebackers Tavares Gooden (shoulder) and Prescott Burgess (illness) and safety Tom Zbikowski (bulging disc in back) sat out their second consecutive practice.

Rookie kick returner/wide receiver David Reed (wrist, concussion) was limited for the second straight day.

Center Matt Birk returned after sitting out practice Wednesday, and he wore a black sleeve on his left calf. Also participating fully were tight ends Todd Heap (pulled right hamstring) and rookie Dennis Pitta (concussion) and wide receiver Derrick Mason (ankle, stomach).

No mas for Ochocinco

The Ravens apparently won't have to deal with Chad Ochocinco this Sunday.

The Cincinnati Bengals' six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, who sat out Sunday's victory over the San Diego Chargers because of a bone spur in his left ankle, told The Cincinnati Enquirer on Thursday that he will not play and won't even make the trip to Baltimore.

"The Ravens are the Ravens. They always have a great defense, but we'll be fine. Jerome [Simpson, who will replace Ochocinco in the lineup] will be fine," said Ochocinco, who is a free agent at season's end.

Suggs gets shots at elusive foe

Terrell Suggs could tie or eclipse his single-season, personal-best 12 sacks Sunday, but history suggests otherwise.

The outside linebacker, who has 11 sacks thus far, has taken down Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer just 4½ times in 14 career meetings. Since sacking Palmer three times in 2004, Suggs has gotten to Palmer just 1½ times in the last six seasons.

"I've been playing against this man since college, and I don't think I have a winning record against him, so I don't sleep much when I'm playing against this guy," Suggs said Wednesday.

Suggs and the Ravens are 4-9 against Palmer and Cincinnati since 2004.

Palmer eyes E .Reed

Palmer has been just as careful when Ed Reed is on the field. In the last eight meetings, Palmer has had just one pass intercepted by Reed, but it was one that he returned 52 yards for a touchdown on Oct. 11, 2009.

Palmer said preparing for a player of Reed's caliber is difficult because no player on the Bengals roster can replicate what Reed can do.

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