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 for 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 …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports


(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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