Rookie kicker Tucker looks forward to duel with Cundiff

justin_tucker

OWINGS MILLS — University of Texas kicker Justin Tucker had more than an inkling that the Baltimore Ravens would sign him shortly after the NFL draft.

The Ravens called him shortly before the end of the seventh round to make their recruiting pitch, and special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg auditioned him privately the Tuesday before the draft.

And Tucker chose the Ravens over competing offers from the Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago Bears, saying coach John Harbaugh’s background as a special teams coach was a big factor in his decision.

"I’m pretty pumped, it happened so quickly and I had my mind made up from the get-go," Tucker told 24×7 in a telephone interview. "I got a lot of calls, but Baltimore was the perfect fit for me. I had talked to coach Rosburg and worked out for him and that went well. I knew their kicking situation and what they were thinking.

"I couldn’t be any more excited about the opportunity. The Ravens have always been a contending team on a regular basis. It’s a culture of winning. Coach Harbaugh is an experienced special-teams guy. He’s a good coach. I didn’t have a single reservation about my decision."

Tucker said he’s looking forward to competing with former Pro Bowl kicker Billy Cundiff, who missed a hurried potential game-tying field goal in an AFC championship game loss to the New England Patriots.

Tucker made 17 of 21 field goals as a senior for the Longhorns.

"They want to create a competition," said Tucker, who arrives in Baltimore late this week for a rookie minicamp. "I remember watching Billy in middle school and high school. I know he’s a good kicker, and he’s certainly done some good things. I’m looking forward to a chance to compete. I’m going to do my thing and make the most of the opportunity.

"I feel like my strengths, first and foremost, are clutch kicking. If you’re playing this game, you had better want to have the ball in your hands. You want to be the guy who hits the walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth. Otherwise, why play the game. Clutch kicking and kicking accuracy are my strengths. I’m athletic, but I can get bigger and stronger."

Tucker connected on 23 of 27 kicks as a junior.

Tucker doubled as a punter at Texas, averaging 40.3 yards per punt.

"I feel like I’m pretty versatile," Tucker said. "I can be an emergency option at punter, if need be. I feel like I’m a football player that can kick the ball. I like to get the weight room and earn my teammates’ respect by producing."

Tucker nailed a 40-yard game-winning field goal to beat archrival Texas A&M in what figures to be the final game in the annual series since the Aggies have joined the Southeastern Conference.

"Making that kick was certainly a positive thing," said Tucker, who graduated in December with a degree in recording technology in Dec. "I treat every single kick like you’re hitting the game-winner. I try to envision it like that. It’s the immediately ultimate impact on the game. Every single point matters, especially in a league with so much parity."

After making that kick, Tucker became something of a folk hero on campus.

In a rowdy atmosphere in College Station, it wasn’t a routine field goal.

"I’ve seen myself make that kick 1,000 times and then some," Tucker said. "I always end each workout with a simulated pressure situation field goal. For me, hitting that kick against Texas A&M was a chance for me to see my hard work and focus over a number of years come to fruition. Their fans are pretty dang loud.

"They register on the Richter scale. They sway back and forth before the fourth quarter. They create a little movement on the seismograph. Being able to block out that stuff is the most important part of any field goal. You have to be able to visualize and have a very specific plan for each kick."

 

This entry was posted in The Beat with Aaron Wilson by Aaron Wilson. Bookmark the permalink.

About Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson
Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post as well as the Baltimore Ravens for The Carroll County Times and Ravens24x7.com. He has previously covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans and has covered the NFL since 1997.  He has won several regional writing awards, including, most recently, Best...more

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

 

Hot off the street

PERCEPTION IS REALITY: Serving up Snapper And Rice

Reality: Jimmy Smith is playing like a “Shut Down” Cornerback. Perception: Jimmy Smith might finally be living up to his draft status. Garret Downing of BaltimoreRavens.com tweeted this: I thi...read more

Nickel Package: Bengals a Historically Tough Match-up

The last time these two teams met was in Week 1 in Baltimore. The Bengals made five field goals to start the game, and although the Ravens responded with a Steve Smith, Sr. touchdown, they only held a...read more

WEDNESDAY INJURY REPORT: Ravens @ Bengals

Ravens DID NOT PARTICIPATE: DE Chris Canty (wrist); TE Owen Daniels (knee) FULL PARTICIPATION: T Eugene Monroe (knee); G Kelechi Osemele (knee)   Cincinnati Bengals OUT: LB Rey Maualu...read more

Section 336 Episode 84 – Broken Mic (with FILMSTUDY)

This week Matt, Bert and Josh look at last week's win for the Baltimore Ravens against the Atlanta Falcons as well as look foward to this week's game against the Bengals. We have a special guest wh...read more

RAVENS LINKS: Ravens Playoff Odds

Ravens' odds of reaching playoffs and Super Bowl Now, I know what you're all going to say (probably in our Facebook comments). You're going to say it's too early to project playoff and Super Bowl o...read more

View More