Notebook: Stover looking to get on track

Street Talk Notebook: Stover looking to get on track

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OWINGS MILLS — Baltimore Ravens veteran kicker Matt Stover has taken an analytical approach toward figuring out why he’s off to an uncharacteristically poor start this season, identifying two reasons behind his three missed field goal attempts.

Stover is convinced that he’s been thinking too much instead of just booting the football. He has been errant on all of his kicks beyond 40 yards.

Plus, the 40-year-old discerned that he hasn’t always lined up correctly as he tries to refine his approach under new special-teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg.

"You’ve gotta hit them," Stover said. "They were all makeable kicks. It’s one of those things as a kicker where you see where you’ve gone wrong fundamentally. Then, it’s getting yourself to a point where you feel good mentally.

"That’s what practice is for, and I’m doing a good job in practice. Now, it’s a matter of replicating that in a game on Sunday. It’s not easy. It never has been."

Stover is the third-most accurate kicker in NFL history, but that strong track record hasn’t been on display in his 19th season.
He has missed on tries from 47, 48 and 45 yards, converting field goals from 21, 33, 20 and 38 yards .

Ravens coach John Harbaugh defended Stover earlier this week.
"I’m not concerned with Matt’s age," Harbaugh said. "He’s kicked very well in practice, and even the balls he’s missed he’s hit very well. So, it’s not like he’s losing leg strength.
"So, it’s not so much age as it is knocking it through the uprights. Sometimes, Matt is thinking about the direction of the kick and things like that instead of just punching it right between the sticks.”

A Pro Bowl selection during the 2000 season, Stover ranks third in the league record book for accuracy with 439 field goals out of 526 attempts for an 83.5 percentage.

The last remaining member of the original Cleveland Browns on the roster, Stover made 27 of 32 kicks last season for his fifth consecutive 100-point season. He’s the leader among active kickers for most career field goals.

"That does let you know you can fight through this, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy," Stover said. "What John said was exactly right. Matt needs to be Matt. Don’t get out there and think too much. Just go out there and kick the ball.”
Stover missed a 45-yard try with 10 seconds left in the first half of the Ravens’ 13-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans.

"I missed that field goal because I lined up wrong and I kicked it where I lined up," Stover said. "You learn from that and move on."

Stover has acknowledged that it has been an adjustment for him since the snap-and-hold operation from long snapper Matt Katula and holder Sam Koch has been accelerated under Rosburg.

However, he’s adamant that he will turn it around.

"It’s not a performance thing," Stover said. "I just need to get it in there. From a mental perspective, I have to make sure that I do that." 

INJURY REPORT: Right offensive tackle Adam Terry didn’t practice Wednesday due a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee, but predicted he would play Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.

"I just feel pretty good," he said. "Spit on it, tape it up, rub some dirt on it, I should be rolling. I didn’t think we had a bye week this week. I anticipate it’s going to be a ramp-it-up each day to get ready for Sunday."

If Terry is sidelined, the Ravens will turn toward four-time Pro Bowl tackle Willie Anderson to replace him.

"We’re sure glad we have Willie Anderson," Harbaugh said. "It’s going to be nice to have him in there if Adam can’t play. Willie has been playing and those two have kind of been sharing that spot and they’ve been working substitution groups, so we’re really hoping we have them both."

Cornerback Fabian Washington (right dislocated shoulder) didn’t practice and is considered a question mark for Sunday. He would be replaced by Frank Walker and Corey Ivy.

Cornerback Samari Rolle (neck surgery) and safety Dawan Landry (neck) were ruled out.

Linebackers Antwan Barnes (knee), Ray Lewis (knee) and Tavares Gooden (hip), offensive tackle Jared Gaither (knee), running back Willis McGahee (knee) and safety Tom Zbikowski (shoulder) were limited in practice.

McGahee wore a red jersey that signifies that he’s off-limits to contact.

The Colts are expected to be without safety Bob Sanders due to a knee injury.

Defensive ends Dwight Freeney (hamstring) and Robert Mathis (non-injury related), wide receiver Anthon Gonzalez (concussion) and cornerback Marlin Jackson (ankle) and Kelvin Hayden (knee) didn’t practice.

GREGG TO IR: Gritty nose guard Kelly Gregg was officially placed on injured reserve one day after undergoing m icrofracture knee surgery on his left knee, a procedure that was successful and should allow him to return for spring minicamps, according to Harbaugh.

"It went better than anticipated,” he said. “In other words, less work had to be done.”

The Ravens signed former San Diego Chargers defensive tackle Brandon McKinney, a former

player who started two games last season, to take Gregg’s spot on the active roster.

Justin Bannan will continue to start in place of Gregg in the middle. He has 16 tackles and a sack.

"We’re going to miss him, it’s a huge loss to not have Kelly and I wish the best for him," Bannan said. "It feels good. Obviously, you never want it to be because your friend gets injured. The main thing is coming out and helping the guys around me, making sure they can rely on me and trust that I can get the job done, too."

Rookie offensive tackle Joe Reitz, who was already on the practice squad injured list, had shoulder surgery with Dr. James Andrews operating on both him and Gregg in


QUICK HITS: Tight end Todd Heap was in a good mood after catching four passes for 41 yards against the Titans, exceeding his previous total of three catches over the first three games. "It felt better, for one," Heap said. "Offensively, we’re trying to get into a groove. We’re trying to get to where we’re more potent. Right now, we’re not there yet, but we’re improving. We’re building something."  … Harbaugh had no interest in discussing his brother, Jim Harbaugh, being reprimanded by the Pac-10 Conference for criticizing the officiating in Stanford’s 28-21 loss to Notre Dame. "I don’t even know what you’re talking about," Harbaugh said in response to a reporter’s question. "Is there another question for me to answer?" … The Ravens signed cornerback Anwar Phillips to the practice squad, cutting defensive tackle J’Vonne Parker.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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Aaron Wilson

About Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post as well as the Baltimore Ravens for The Carroll County Times and 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 Sports News Story for the state of Maryland in voting conducted by the Associated Press managing editors. 

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