The Tennessee Titans are planning to play without Pro Bowl punter Brett Kern on Sunday. Or at least they have made sure they are prepared to do so.
NFL Network reported Thursday morning that the Titans have signed veteran Johnny Townsend to the active roster. The team confirmed the news later in the afternoon.
The Titans started the week with two available roster spots after outside linebackers Derick Roberson and Rashad Weaver were placed on injured reserve. Now, one of those spots has been filled.
Kern’s right leg is his kicking leg.
The three-time Pro Bowler and 2019 All-Pro missed three games last season, and Tennessee used two different punters, Trevor Daniel and Ryan Allen, in his absence. Before that, Kern had not missed a game in 10-plus seasons with the Titans.
Coincidentally, kicker Sam Ficken opened the season on injured reserve, where he remains, due to a groin injury in his kicking leg.
Through the first three games of this season, Kern has averaged 47.8 yards on just six punts with a net average of 43.8 yards. The latter would rank fourth in the NFL, but the Titans have not punted enough in order for him to qualify for the league leaders. He has placed one punt inside the 20 with no touchbacks.
A fifth-round pick by the then-Oakland Raiders in 2018, Townsend is a third-year veteran who has kicked in 17 games. He appeared in all 16 as a rookie with the Raiders and one for the Baltimore Ravens in 2020. He also has spent time with Kansas City and the New York Giants.
He was with the Ravens throughout the offseason and released in mid-August.