Ravens' Sam Koch gets his kicks from innovative punts

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) When Ravens punter Sam Koch entered the NFL 10 years ago, he did little more than simply attempt to kick the ball as far and high as possible.

Now, his repertoire includes rugby-style kicks, low line drives and end-over-end floaters designed to trap a team deep in its own territory.

''It seems like each and every year we pick up something different,'' Koch said Wednesday. ''We go out there and try to evolve punting, make it better.''

Koch can still kick the long one, as evidenced by his 67-yarder last Sunday in Miami and his 53.4-yard average on four tries during a 15-13 defeat.

He is a master of his craft. Koch leads the NFL with a 44.5-yard net average, ranks fourth with a 48.3 gross average and has pinned the opposition inside the 20 on 19 occasions compared to only two touchbacks.

Baltimore might need him to be at his best Sunday against surging Seattle.

Koch was a Pro Bowl alternate in 2010 and 2014, and this season his teammates and coaches believe it's time for him to be a starter.

Ravens kicker Justin Tucker tweeted Wednesday: ''Let's get (at)Sam-Koch4 to Hawaii! Best Net Punter in the NFL for 2 years in a row.''

Baltimore special teams coach Jerry Rosburg insists Koch is the best in the league for reasons that transcend the gaudy numbers.

''He's changing the way the game is going to be played,'' Rosburg said. ''He has shown the value of the skills that he has, and yet, we still don't see anybody else doing it. If they could do it, I can assure you they would. He has made it a lot of fun to coach football for those of us around him, because every day we go out there, and he has a new thought (about) something else that we want to try.''

With the Ravens (4-8) struggling on offense without injured starters Joe Flacco, Steve Smith, Eugene Monroe and Justin Forsett, field position is invaluable. That's where Koch comes in.

He placed three punts inside the Miami 20-yard line last week, including that 67-yarder than came to rest at the 1.

''Quite honestly, our goal each and every punt is to pin them back there as far as we can,'' Koch said.

Koch's 54 punts this season have produced 10 fair catches and 30 returns for a paltry 165 yards - a 5.5 average. Of his 762 career punts in the regular season, only three have been blocked.

The guy's durable, too. Koch has never missed a game since being drafted in the sixth round out of Nebraska. His streak of consecutive games now stands at a franchise-record 156.

''I'm very proud to be able to say I've here for 10 years and been able to play every game,'' he said. ''I intend to continue to do that.''

His worth to the team was displayed last July, when the Ravens handed him a five-year, $16.25 million contract that came with a $4 million signing bonus.

Whether Koch makes the Pro Bowl or not, he intends to keep looking for innovative ways to kick a football.

''Whoever they vote, they vote. I would love to make a Pro Bowl, but then again, there are a lot of good guys out there,'' he said. ''We have a lot to contend with. That's why we're trying to set ourselves apart and do even greater things.''

Notes: QB Matt Schaub missed practice Wednesday but intends to play Sunday against Seattle. ... LB Elvis Dumervil offered an unsolicited criticism of officiating this season, calling it ''bizarre.'' He added, ''It's the referees, for sure. For us to not get holding calls; it's a lot of things that I feel like we're being taken advantage of, for sure.''


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