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  1. #1

    About Tucker: He Never Missed a Critical Kick



    http://www.csnbaltimore.com/football...557403056-1132

    By J. Michael of CSN/Balt.

    Indeed, Justin Tucker has range.

    The undrafted rookie out of Texas not only won the starting job with the Ravens because of his stronger and more accurate leg but he also comes with a different vibe. He beat out Billy Cundiff, who was a veteran and in the Pro Bowl just two seasons ago.

    "I got a chance to celebrate and call everyone in my family and a few of my good friends from school and let them know some good news," Tucker said Monday in his first remarks since winning the job over the weekend. "Right after that you have to put your head down and get right back to work."

    One of those people Tucker communicated with was longtime Longhorns coach Mack Brown, who recruited him out of Westlake High School in Austin. Tucker's versatility stands out.

    "I've text his dad a number of times and I text back and forth with Justin. We're really proud of him and know he'll do a great job for the Ravens," Brown told CSNBaltimore on Monday. "He's smart. Very smart. He's full of spirit and energy. He can rap and he can sing opera. That tells you the range of personality he has."

    Really, Tucker does. He was a music recording technology major and auditioned to get accepted into his major by performing opera. He rapped with his Longhorn teammates.

    More importantly, Tucker can kick. He not only was more accurate than Cundiff throughout training camp but he had the stronger leg. In last week's game vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tucker nailed a 53-yarder with plenty of room to spare.

    "He's in great shape. He was an outstanding receiver and defensive back at Westlake High School on top of being a kicker so he's a very good athlete. He never missed a critical kick for us," Brown said of Tucker, who made 40 of 48 field goals (83.3%) for Texas and never missed a fourth-quarter field goal. "When it got down to a tough kick he always made them. At the same time we had him punting, he can regular punt, he can rugby punt. We had him kicking off and we had him doing field goals and extra points. We really wore him out."

    Speaking earlier in the day, Tucker maintains he has never dealt with adversity as a kicker, which seems inevitable in the NFL and especially the AFC North with outdoor winter conditions in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Cincinnati.

    "I've never really had any major lows, or at least I wouldn't tell myself that I'd had any," Tucker said. "Just keep it simple and take one kick at a time. That's all you can do."

    The first part of his comment mirrored what Brown said: "He's so confident if he had a rough spot he wouldn't think that. He'd work himself through it. He's a very tough guy mentally."

    And what about the pressure? Cundiff cracked under it when he missed 32-yarder that would've sent last season's AFC Championship Game vs. the New England Patriots. Harbaugh said that wasn't a factor in choosing Tucker instead.

    "We brought Billy back. If it had been, he wouldn't have been back," Harbaugh said. "We had confidence. Billy kicked well. Billy could very easily be the kicker here."

    Brown is not concerned about Tucker under pressure. Tucker hit a 40-yarder as the clock expired in the final game of a long-held rivalry.

    "The media here is like a pro media. We're considered like the pro team, from a media standpoint and exposure standpoint. We're like an NFL team in Austin," Brown said. "He kicked a last-second field goal to beat A&M in the last game of the rivalry at their place in front of 86,000 Aggies. It doesn't get much bigger than that if you're really looking at the pressure. He's more than prepared."




  2. #2
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    Re: About Tucker: He Never Missed a Critical Kick

    Quote Originally Posted by Tspot-D-Ravenator View Post
    http://www.csnbaltimore.com/football...557403056-1132


    "The media here is like a pro media. We're considered like the pro team, from a media standpoint and exposure standpoint. We're like an NFL team in Austin," Brown said. "He kicked a last-second field goal to beat A&M in the last game of the rivalry at their place in front of 86,000 Aggies. It doesn't get much bigger than that if you're really looking at the pressure. He's more than prepared."
    That is absolutely correct. Last year I heard some rookie on tv saying how much louder and crazier it had been playing on the road in college stadiums than when he got to the pros.

    I'm not worried about there being more pressure in the games.

    I do worry -- if true, which I don't know -- about our locker room and the stuff some people posted about Cundiff always being reminded not to "blow it for Ray" or whatever.

    You don't remind people not to screw up because what they'll do is visualize themselves screwing up; and then that's exactly what they will do -screw up.

    The players on the Ravens should know that with all the coaching and psycho-babble they get, so I take that tale with a grain of salt.

    Nevertheless, I hope they just leave this kid alone and let him kick and stay out of his head. They start that "don't blow it" shit and they make his job harder than it already is, and that doesn't help anybody.




  3. #3
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    Re: About Tucker: He Never Missed a Critical Kick

    NCR--
    I tend to agree with your comment that Tucker needs to be more or less "left alone", and not have the fans or media or coaches or players build him up too much or tear him down too much, depending upon his performances in the season. What I fear is that the guy misses an FG or two, and the "I told you so's!" and second-guessing start up. It sounds as if the Ravens had an honest, fair competition, Tucker beat out Cundiff, he costs the team less, so let's get on with the season and let the kid create his own legacy without expecting him to walk above water!




  4. #4
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    Let's slow down just a bit here. As a Longhorn fan, I'm as happy as anyone he's a Raven now. The wife is already looking to buy his jersey.

    But his body of work isn't all that large yet.

    He won the kicking job fair and square but he has indeed missed his fair share of kicks. He's only been kicking FG's and XPA's for two years.

    Yes, he's not missed any critical kicks, but thats not really saying much since he's really only had one critical kick in his college career.
    WARNING: This post may contain material offensive to those who lack wit, humor, common sense and/or supporting factual or anecdotal evidence. All statements and assertions contained herein may be subject to literary devices not limited to: irony, metaphor, allusion and dripping sarcasm.




  5. #5

    Re: About Tucker: He Never Missed a Critical Kick

    Quote Originally Posted by HoustonRaven View Post
    Let's slow down just a bit here. As a Longhorn fan, I'm as happy as anyone he's a Raven now. The wife is already looking to buy his jersey.

    But his body of work isn't all that large yet.

    He won the kicking job fair and square but he has indeed missed his fair share of kicks. He's only been kicking FG's and XPA's for two years.

    Yes, he's not missed any critical kicks, but thats not really saying much since he's really only had one critical kick in his college career.
    Ah HR! If he played for one the nations most profiled teams and was almost perfect, I wonder why he was not one of the nations top kickers entering the draft? Never mind inexperience is probably the answer..

    I wish him good luck, I fear he rapidly can end in a similar situation as Hauschka and even after the miss against Vikes, I would have kept Hauschka, more upside.. and btw I really hate changing kickers, unless they like Stover was done.

    I cant help wondering why people constantly calls Cundiff a choker, average yes, below average migth be so, not much upside yes, choker never.




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    Re: About Tucker: He Never Missed a Critical Kick

    Quote Originally Posted by elland View Post
    I cant help wondering why people constantly calls Cundiff a choker, average yes, below average migth be so, not much upside yes, choker never.
    Missing a chip shot in the AFC Championship will get a kicker that label.




  7. #7

    Re: About Tucker: He Never Missed a Critical Kick

    Quote Originally Posted by Paintballguy View Post
    Missing a chip shot in the AFC Championship will get a kicker that label.
    yeah, i dont think you can say never a choker, but i do think its been blown out of proportion as hes hit a few game winners for us as well.
    -JAB




  8. #8

    Re: About Tucker: He Never Missed a Critical Kick

    Joe Flacco got called out by his own teammate, a defensive leader and future hall of famer, in Ed Reed. Flacco came out like a beast the next week. Test the kid, get in his head and see how he responds. The veterans on this team understand the type of mentality he has to have for him to help them be successful. It doesn't bother me at all that they are reminding him of Ray.
    "When questioned, the Elders explained that they were in search of magical powers. However, they're actually searching for the whereabouts of a certain ring. This ring is a legendary treasure that long ago was known to exist"




  9. #9

    Re: About Tucker: He Never Missed a Critical Kick

    Quote Originally Posted by JAB1985 View Post
    yeah, i dont think you can say never a choker, but i do think its been blown out of proportion as hes hit a few game winners for us as well.


    Ya I don't see that at all. Honestly, what Cundiff did was the exact DEFINITION of choking. His name will forever go down in history with Norwood, gary Anderson, Bill Buckner and Van De Velde.... He literally missed the shortest kick ever missed that ended a teams season in the playoffs...
    There is literally no way to put it. The only player in the history of football that can even be considered a bigger choker is Norwood, who's missed FG cost them the SB, but missed an almost 50 yarder. He's called a choker for missing a FG that I would presume is a 60-70% league average FG, Cundiff missed a 96% league average FG try.




  10. #10
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    Re: About Tucker: He Never Missed a Critical Kick

    I think a big thing Tucker is going to have to focus on heavily is kicking in the mid-Atlantic region and New England region during the winter. Lots of outdoor stadiums...lots of hard/cold balls being kicked...

    Austin Texas gets cold in the winter...but not a lot of below freezing temps, rain, sleet, snow, high winds coming off the harbor...

    Cleveland, Pitt, and Cinci are all outdoor stadiums which will feel the effects of the winter for sure.
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  11. #11
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    Re: About Tucker: He Never Missed a Critical Kick

    Quote Originally Posted by The Excellector View Post
    Joe Flacco got called out by his own teammate, a defensive leader and future hall of famer, in Ed Reed. Flacco came out like a beast the next week. Test the kid, get in his head and see how he responds. The veterans on this team understand the type of mentality he has to have for him to help them be successful. It doesn't bother me at all that they are reminding him of Ray.
    I have to disagree because to me, kickers aren't like real football players. And while the vets on the team know what it takes to get pumped up to play defense, I am not sure that translates to the kicker position. Kickers don't have to get pumped up to physically combat 300 pound men, or stand tall in the pocket and deliver a pass off the front foot while knowing there's a fleet of dump trucks barreling toward them.

    All they do is line up their angle and kick a ball.

    Getting pumped up to kick ass or whatever is most likely counterproductive for a kicker.




  12. #12
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    Re: About Tucker: He Never Missed a Critical Kick

    I was glad to see Tucker beat out Cundiff. Billy was very, very good in camp by all accounts but Tucker was better. And that's the essence of competition. The coaches made the right call.

    That said, I hope fans don't get unrealistic expectations about Justin Tucker. He is going to have misses, and at some point probably a big one (though hopefully never as big as Cundiff in the AFCCG!). We don't know how he'll do over the course of a full NFL season in all kinds of weather. I think what we should look for with Tucker is for him to hopefully carry over the consistency he had in college to an NFL career. If he can kick for a high percentage inside the 50 and a decent percentage in the 50-55 yard range, I don't think anyone can ask for more. Tucker seems to have the potential to become one of the premier kickers in the league, and we all hope that's what happens. But this is only the beginning of his journey. Only time will tell how he does. But I'm excited to have him on the team.




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