Johnny Townsend's transition from college to the NFL has been a lot smoother than expected.
The Oakland Raiders fifth-round pick has been nothing short of spectacular according to Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia. From his work ethic to his contributions in practice, Townsend is fitting in nicely with the Silver and Black.
"Johnny has been outstanding holding for both [kickers]," Bisaccia said Wednesday. "I've never really had that before. I haven't had a lefty and a righty before in a camp, so he's been outstanding. When I went to work him out, I asked him to do both. It was pretty natural for him."
The former University of Florida Gator has showcased his talent on several occasions during Mandatory Minicamp, cornering several punts within the 10-yard line. When Townsend was being scouted by the Raiders through the pre-draft process everything about him jumped off the page.
"We thought he was really athletic on tape," Bisaccia shared. "The thing he did really well was direct the ball. He did a good job of putting the ball outside the right numbers and putting the ball outside the left numbers, which is kind of a staple for our scheme, is to be able to direct the ball right and left. We thought he did a really good job with that in college. He was really athletic, and he was really good hand to kick time. So catch to kick, you could kind of see the speed of his hands. I think a lot of that has to do with certainly his baseball background. He's big, physical guy."
So far through Rookie Minicamp and Mandatory Minicamp, Townsend has been as advertised, and he's earned the respect of his teammates in the process. Kicker Giorgio Tavecchio has seen a lot of turnover over the last few months, with Marquette King being released, as well as long snapper Jon Condo. In his first few months with his new teammate, Tavecchio has said the connection between the two has been great, and they've learned a lot about each other quickly.
"I call him Captain America. (laughter)," Tavecchio joked. "Nice kid, good looking dude, can do a little bit of everything. I think it's just a testament of his attitude towards things. He's really eager to please and to work hard and I appreciate his work ethic, because he's really put in a lot of work and it's not easy."
In terms of Townsend's personal growth, the rookie is thrilled to be a part of an organization with such a rich history. The 23 year old has idolized several players that have walked through the Raiders' doors, and knows what it means to wear the Silver and Black.
"Some of the best punters in NFL history have come through here," Townsend said. "Ray Guy, Shane Lechler. There are some big shoes to fill. I'm going to play my role this year coming in as a rookie and try to have the biggest impact that I possibly can."
Special Teams is often overlooked, but the importance of good field position can make or break a game. In his first few months with the team, Townsend has already made an impact, and seeing how he contributes on gameday will be fun.