Ravens try out Eagles punter

OWINGS MILLS -- In their ongoing search for a replacement for punter Dave Zastudil, the Baltimore Ravens auditioned Philadelphia Eagles restricted free agent Dirk Johnson last week.

Johnson missed time in 2005 because of a sports hernia surgery, averaging 41.4 yards before being replaced by veteran Sean Landeta, who remains another possibility for the Ravens. Johnson was at the Ravens' training complex last week for a try-out. If the Ravens submit an offer sheet for Johnson, the Eagles would have the right to match that contract with one week to decide. There would be no draft pick compensation involved for Johnson, an undrafted free agent who attended Northern Colorado. Johnson's agent, Jordan Woy, had been lobbying the Ravens for weeks to look at the fifth-year pro who suffered a severe groin strain against the Denver Broncos last season. In 2004, Johnson averaged a career-high of 42.1 yards, including a net average of 37.5 yards per punt. It was the best net average for an Eagles punter since 1976. Through seven games last season, Johnson sported a 38.4 net average with 11 punts placed inside the 20-yard line. In 40 career games, Johnson has placed 59 punts inside the 20 with 16 touchbacks. Johnson is believed to have made a complete recovery from his injuries. After losing Zastudil to the Cleveland Browns (five years, $8 million), the Ravens negotiated with punter Jason Baker, but he decided to rejoin the Carolina Panthers for a two-year, $1.8 million deal that included a $400,000 signing bonus. NOTE: USC offensive guard Fred Matua said he will visit the Ravens on Sunday. ... The Ravens have also planned a visit with Oklahoma offensive guard Chris Chester at an undisclosed date. ... The Ravens interviewed USC safety Darnell Bing at the NFL scouting combine, but haven't scheduled him for a visit. In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland. If you are reading this article via a news portal, you can find the original on RavensInsider.Com URL:http://www.ravensinsider.com

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