The decision to go with a talented, young kicker in Justin Tucker appears to have been a wise one. As the Ravens attempted to move the ball down the field in the final two minutes of Sunday's 24-23 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, rookie kicker Justin Tucker warmed up his right leg and relaxed his mind on the sideline. He had already made three field goals, including a 56-yarder that tied for the longest in franchise history, and with the way the undrafted rookie from Texas has been kicking over the past six weeks, you have to figure the Ravens would have liked their chances of stealing a victory if they could have gotten Tucker within 60 yards of the uprights. But the drive stalled and Tucker didn't get his opportunity to try his first do-or-die kick in the NFL, but he said he believes that he could connect from beyond 60 yards "on a really good day." I know his career is still in its infancy, but it looks like there are going to be a lot of really good days in this quirky kid's future. If he continues to make long field goals with ease and boom touchbacks out of the back of the end zone, we will soon stop talking about whether the Ravens did the right thing by going with Tucker over former Pro Bowl kicker Billy Cundiff. Instead, we will be asking why Tucker was available to compete with Cundiff in the first place. Composed young kickers are hard to come by, and Tucker has a different air about him than Steve Hauschka and Graham Gano did three years ago. He is very confident, but not too cocky, and seems very comfortable in his own skin, whether he is impersonating Christopher Walken in front of his new teammates or sitting cross-legged on the locker room floor as reporters conduct interviews around him. Tucker also has a big leg and is accurate from long range, giving the Ravens a dimension they lacked with Cundiff, who was 1-for-6 on 50-yarders a season ago. Tucker has already made two field goals from beyond 50 yards and four from beyond 45 yards. Of course, the Ravens won't really know what they have in Tucker until he lines up, crosses his heart like he does before every kick, and swings his right leg at a football with the game on the line. Then they will know what he is built like on the inside. But it's clear he has a ton of talent and plenty of confidence. Maybe it wasn't that risky to put their faith in a rookie kicker after all.
Baltimore Sun photo by Gene Sweeney Jr.