Tucker confronts toughest conditions yet

Tucker confronts toughest conditions yet
November 4, 2012, 2:45 pm
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Coming out of the bye week, there aren't too many things the Ravens have been doing right even though they're 5-2.

But keeping rookie kicker Justin Tucker, 22, over veteran Billy Cundiff, who was released towards the end of the preseason, was a wise one.

Tucker has converted 14 of 15 field goals. More impressively, he's 4-for-4 from 50 yards or more with his longest coming from 56. Cundiff was acquired by the Washington Redskins but soon released and is out of the NFL.

Sunday, Tucker faces perhaps his toughest challenge of the season: Kicking outdoors at Cleveland Browns Stadium on a frigid day and possible swirling winds from the shore of Lake Erie.

"It only changes minor things, aiming points, maybe a shoe i'll wear if the ground is wet or soft," Tucker said. "But weather, field conditions, they have a little bit of an influence with what we do but as long as we stick to our technique and what we've practiced we'll give ourselves the best chance to be successful."

Tucker went back to his hometown of Austin, Texas, during the bye week and visited his college coach Mack Brown and the Longhorns.

"I got to watch what they do one afternoon. That was fun getting to see him … and all those guys there and get to reconnect real briefly," Tucker said. "I definitely miss the people. I miss my teammates. I miss my friends."

But playing with the Ravens isn't too shabby either. Inside a locker room jumping with chatter, music and a movie blaring over the speakers and a flat screen TV at Terrell Suggs' locker, Tucker basked in the chaos.

"How can you not be pumped up every day to come into this work environment?" he said rhetorically. "This is a great place."

Tucker isn't putting too much thought into his kicking duties. He trusts long-snapper Morgan Cox and holder Sam Koch.

"As long as Morgan and Sam and myself are all on the same page and we stick to what we know, stick to what we do best, we'll give ourselves a chance to be successful," Tucker said. "If we can make a kick more down the middle, that's what we're aiming for every week."