Chiefs swap out punting Townsend brothers as COVID hits NFL
There was a Townsend punting for the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, but he was wearing No. 6 instead of the usual No 5.
Even though Kansas City Chiefs punter Tommy Townsend wound up on the reserve/COVID-19 inactive list for Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Chiefs punting duties remained in the family.
Kansas City, which signed Townsend’s brother Johnny Townsend to its practice squad on Thursday, activated Johnny on Saturday and he took his brother’s place during a 36-10 rout of the Steelers at Arrowhead Stadium.
Johnny Townsend punted two times for the Chiefs on Sunday, averaging 45.5 yards with a long of 50 yards. Tommy Townsend will be out until he clears the NFL’s COVID-19 protocol.
The Townsend brothers, who both punted for the Florida Gators and attended Orlando Boone High, were teammates last season when the Chiefs signed Johnny to their practice squad for insurance in case then-rookie Tommy was sidelined.
The Chiefs never activated Johnny Townsend last season. He was signed by the Tennessee Titans earlier this season and had 11 punts for an average of 42.3 yards in three games.
Last season, Johnny Townsend appeared in one game for the Baltimore Ravens and had two punts for an average of 55 yards. He was drafted in 2018 by the Oakland Raiders in the fifth round. He has had 83 punts in 20 NFL games and has averaged 43.3 yards per punt.
Tommy Townsend, who signed as an undrafted free agent last year, is in his second season in the NFL and having an all-Pro type of season. In November he was named the AFC special teams player of the month. He is averaging 48 yards per punt on 32 attempts. Known for his strong leg, but also pin-point accuracy, Tommy Townsend has put 19 of those 32 punts inside the 20-yard line and has only one touchback for the season.
COVID-19 has hit the NFL hard recently. It forced postponement and rescheduling of three games this past week.
This week, nearly 200 players were placed on the COVID-19 inactive list prior to Sunday’s games. The Chiefs also were missing all-Pro tight end Travis Kelce and kicker Harrison Butker, among eight Kansas City players who failed NFL COVID-19 protocols.
Sanford Seminole and UCF receiver Gabriel Davis was placed on the Buffalo Bills injured/COVID list.
The New Orleans Saints have the most players on the COVID list with 16 which includes former Orlando Olympia product quarterback Trevor Siemian. The Saints, however, Monday to clear COVID-19 protocols since they do not play until Monday night against the Miami Dolphins.
This article originally appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Chris Hays covers high school football, college football recruiting and the Orlando Magic for the Sentinel. He can be reached at CHays@orlandosentinel.com.