Ravens kicker Justin Tucker is an aspiring musician but there has been one song this week that has constantly been on his mind.
"I’ve got that Monday Night Football theme song in my head,” said Tucker who will kick in his first NFL regular season game against the Cincinnati Bengals Monday. “It’s definitely a dream come true, being able to open up on Monday Night Football.”
Is Tucker ready for some NFL football?
His kicking battle with veteran incumbent Billy Cundiff was one of the talks of training camp, but since the Ravens made the decision over a week ago to terminate Cundiff’s contract and give the kicking job to the undrafted rookie out of Texas, Tucker has gotten an opportunity to settle in.
“Everything does happen really quickly, but I feel like the last week or so, there is also sort of a calmness to it that I felt the last few days,” said Tucker. “From this point on, it’s just a matter of improving and expounding on what I’ve been able to accomplish throughout training camp. [Coach John Harbaugh] is big on saying, ‘You have to find something to get better at every day.’ There’s no such thing as staying the same. You either get better or get worse. The goal going into every single practice, every single kick is to kick it better than the last one. That’s really what I’m trying to do.”
Ravens assistant head coach and special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg has been impressed with the results.
“He knows that he still has to improve as we go out through the season,” Rosburg said. “He does not have experience in a regular season NFL game. He knows that, we know that. It’s going to have a different texture to it. He’s excited about playing. He’s had a really good week of practice. Nothing has really changed in his performance. He’s kicking well. We’re anxious and excited to watch him play on Monday Night football.
In out-dueling Cundiff, Tucker was near flawless in practice and his accuracy carried over to the preseason games, where he was 6-of-7 on field-goal attempts, missing just once from 57 yards in the preseason finale against the St. Louis Rams.
Tucker, however, understands that he’ll be under great scrutiny once the regular season begins. Tucker, who never missed a fourth quarter field goal attempt in his collegiate career, anxiously awaits his first clutch try in the NFL.
“I look forward to all of it,” he said. “All I can say is I’m prepared, I’m calm, and I’m excited at the same time. I’m just really looking forward to opening it up on Monday night.”