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Ravens rookie Justin Tucker gets his kicks in NFL

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Ravens rookie Justin Tucker gets his kicks in NFL

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) Justin Tucker vividly remembers every detail of his first field goal try in the NFL.

The Baltimore Ravens were in the third quarter of meaningless preseason game in Atlanta last August. For a rookie placekicker, however, it was the national championship and Super Bowl rolled into one.

``That first kick - 36-yarder from the right hash, Georgia Dome - my heart was probably beating out of my chest a little bit,'' Tucker recalled Wednesday. ``But I stuck with what I know, I did what I always do, and the kick went right down the pipes. From that point on, I've been having fun with every single attempt.''

He's having a great deal of success, too.

Tucker is 11 for 12 on field goal tries and has made all 13 conversions attempts. He kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired against New England on Sept. 23, and last Sunday he scored all of Baltimore's points in a 9-6 win over Kansas City.

``In a sense, every kick is like, `Wow. This is awesome,''' Tucker said. ``I really try to treat every attempt exactly the same, whether it's an extra point, a field goal to win the game or a 50-plus yarder. It really shouldn't matter. I try to do the same thing every time.''

Tucker won the job over the summer from veteran Billy Cundiff, who subsequently signed with Washington. Cundiff was cut by the Redskins on Tuesday, further justifying coach John Harbaugh's gamble to keep the rookie instead of the veteran.

``I would describe him as a good kicker, first of all,'' Harbaugh said of Tucker. ``We love him. He's ours.''

Tucker's bout with nerves on that first kick in Atlanta might seem a bit strange, because at the University of Texas he played in far more important games and in front of bigger crowds. He had bigger kicks, too, most notably a 40-yarder against Texas A&M that gave the Longhorns a 27-25 victory.

Tucker was a solid kicker with Texas and very good when he got to Baltimore. Working with kicking consultant Randy Brown, special teams coach Jerry Rosburg and Harbaugh, a former special teams coach, made Tucker even better.

``I'm a completely different kicker than I was coming out of college,'' he said.

Holder Sam Koch says Tucker shows none of the traits usually associated with a rookie kicker.

``Coming into training camp we knew he was a rookie, but the way he's been kicking you don't see that a whole lot,'' Koch said. ``To be able to come in and be as consistent as he has been with ball striking, that's impressive. He's got a great personality and the mentality that you need to go out there and kick every Sunday. If he makes one or misses one, he just puts that behind him and moves onto the next one.''

Koch compared Tucker to Matt Stover, one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history and a member of the Ravens from 1996-2008.

``Stover was one of those guys, it didn't matter where the kick was, how far the kick was, what stadium it was, he always had solid ball-striking,'' Koch said. ``Tucker does, too. Hits a clean ball every time.''

There's nothing more deflating for a team than to play hard for 59 minutes and then have the final kick go awry. That's what Cundiff did in New England last year at the end of the AFC title game, swinging a 32-yard try wide to the left.

Tucker cashed in on his try against the Patriots, and his teammates are certain the next game-winner will split the uprights, too.

``He's a guy that has confidence all over him,'' defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said. ``You can see it. He doesn't let anything faze him, and it's pretty comforting to see that out of a rookie kicker.''

Tucker was born in Houston and played for Texas, so guess which team he grew up cheering for? The Cowboys (2-2), whom the Ravens (4-1) host on Sunday.

``I was always a Cowboys fan,'' Tucker said. ``My allegiance has certainly changed, and now I'm a 100 percent Baltimore Ravens fan.''

That doesn't mean he won't get a few chills on Sunday afternoon.

``There's still that wow-factor,'' Tucker said. ``It's amazing and fun. It was will be kind of cool to be playing the Boys with stars on their helmets.''

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Steve Bisciotti donates $100,000 to rebuilding historically black churches

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Steve Bisciotti donates $100,000 to rebuilding historically black churches

One more week of the NFL offseason in the books. Here's the latest Baltimore Ravens news.

Player/Team Notes:

1. Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti donated $100,000 to help rebuilding efforts for three historically black churches in the Louisiana area that recently burned down by an alleged arsonists. An effort led by former tight end Benjamin Watson, Bisciotti reached out to him Sunday committing his donation. 

2. The GOAT gene has transferred from Justin Tucker to his son, Easton. The kicker posted a video on his Instagram Thursday of the little guy kicking a (mini) field goal right down the middle, just like his dad. 

Looking Ahead:

April 19: Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets

April 25-27: 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville, Tn.

May 3-6 or May 10-13: Potential three-day rookie mini camp

The 2019 NFL schedule is set!  See the Baltimore Ravens defend the AFC North at M&T Bank Stadium this season. Get your tickets now at www.BaltimoreRavens.com/tickets.

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Ravens Mock Draft Roundup: A wide receiver, defensive end favorites at 22

Ravens Mock Draft Roundup: A wide receiver, defensive end favorites at 22

This is not a drill. We are one week away from the 2019 NFL Draft.

Will the Ravens get Lamar Jackson help at wide receiver or will they focus on filling their holes on defense?

We will have answers to those questions in no time, but in the time being let's take a look at who experts are predicting they take with the 22nd overall pick.

NBC Sports Washington's Ben Standig and NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah: DE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson

Ferrell had 38 tackles for loss and 21 sacks over the last two seasons. A young threat would fit in quite nicely for the new-looking Ravens defense. 

Bleacher ReportNFL.com's Charles Davis and Sporting News: WR Marquise Brown, Oklahoma

Brown, who posted 1,318 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns during the 2018 season, reportedly made a visit to the Ravens this week

It's no secret that the Ravens need help at WR with only two guys on their current roster who have caught a pass in the NFL. 

SB NationSports Illustrated and CBS Sports: WR D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss

After an impressive combine performance and a picture surfacing of him looking insanely jacked at the gym, Metcalf is definitely the most talked about receiver in this year's draft.

Despite missing part of the 2018 season with a neck injury, Metcalf's draft profile describes him having "projectable upside to become a home-run threat as a WR1." Just what the Ravens need.

ESPN's Mel Kiper and Todd McShay: C/G Erik McCoy, Texas A&M

The center position is not seen as a sexy pick in the draft, but Bradbury's skillset is enough to get you excited.

He has three years of experience while at Texas A&M and was only called for five penalties in 2,811 snaps over his college career.

The 2019 NFL schedule is set!  See the Baltimore Ravens defend the AFC North at M&T Bank Stadium this season. Get your tickets now at www.BaltimoreRavens.com/tickets.

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